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Police Law



“Challenge: Developing from a force, considered for too long to be part of the armed forces, to a service that maintains the peace, protects law and order and serves the public of Somaliland”


The formation of the Somaliland Police goes back to 1910 when a Somaliland Coastal Police was formed. This was followed by the establishment of the Somaliland Camel Constabulary to police the interior. A combined police force was set up in 1926 which included a rural force (Ilalo).  On Somaliland independence in June 1960, the  main law that governed the organisation and  work of the police force was the Police Ordinance (Ordinance No. 2 of 1958).  On the State of Somaliland’s union with Somalia in July 1960, the Somaliland Police became part of the new Somali Republic Police.  The Ilalo was merged with the Police in 1970 (Law No. 5 of 17/1/1970).


The previous Somaliland criminal law and criminal procedures (based on Indian Acts) continued to apply until 1964 and 1975 respectively.


 The Somaliland Police Force was re-formed with effect from 2 November 1993. The laws relating to the Somaliland Police, as far as we can ascertain, are:

  1. The Law on the Structure of the Somaliland Police Force - No. 54 of 3 November 1994. 
  2. Somaliland Police Establishment (Amendment) Law - Law No. 7/95 amending the 1994 Structure Law.
  3. The Somaliland Police Regulations 1995 (Regulations No. RSLP/D-1.131/95) consisting of 88 Articles cover all aspects of the police force establishment, structure and ranks, recruitment, condition of service, discipline etc. The Regulations include provisions similar to both the 1972 Police Law and the 1974  Police Regulations(see below), but replace both of them.

UPDATE: July 2012: A new bill, the Somaliland Police Force Bill 2012 is currently been considered by the House Internal Affairs Committee and is likely to be considered at the next session of the House starting in September 2012.

Update: March 2013: After the first reading of the Bill and debates at the House, the Bill was referred back to the Committee. The Bill is likely to receive its second reading at the next session of the House which is starting in mid April 2013.


The Somaliland Police Regulations 1995:

The following table sets out the provisions of the Somaliland Police Regulations 1995 (large file) in sections of 5 to 6 scanned pages each:



    Qaybta 1: Eray Bixinta & Dhismaha

    Definition & (Overall) Structure

    Qod 1 - 2



    Bogga 1 - 5

    Qaybta  2: Magacaabidda, Qorisita & Shaqada Ciidanka Boliiska

    Appointments, Recruitment & the Work of the Police Force

    Qod. 3 - 13

    Qaybta 3: Qaab-dhismeedka Ciidanka Boliiska

    The Structure of the Police Force

    Qod. 14 - 21


    Bogga 6 - 10

    Qaybta 4: Arrimaha Ciidanka

    Conditions of Service of the Force

    Qod. 22- 28

    Qaybta 5: Xaalada Shaqada

    Service Matters

    Qod. 29 - 43

    Bogga 11 - 16

    Qaybta 6: Dalacaada


    Qod. 44 - 51


    Bogga 17 - 21

    Qaybta 7: Fasaxa, Mushaharka & Xaaladah Xubnaha

    Leave, Pay & the Status of the Members

    Qod. 52 - 63

    Qaybta 8: Asluubta


    Qod. 64 - 69



    Bogga 22 - 26


    Qaybta 9: Awoodaha & Habka

    Competence  & Procedure

    Qod. 70 - 72

    Qaybta 10: Gefefka Asluubeed

    Disciplinary offences

    Qod. 73

    Qaybta 11: Ciqaabaha & Racfaanka

     Penalties & Appeals

    Qod. 74 - 78



    Bogga 27 – 31



    Qaybta 12: Abaalmarinta Hawlaha Boliiska

    Meritorious Police Service

    Qod. 79 - 81

    Qaybta 13: Xannanada Boliiska

     Police Welfare

    Qod. 82 - 83

    Qaybta 14: Qodobada Dhameystirka

    Final Provisions

    Qod. 84 - 88

The Somaliland Constitution (and the interim 1997 Constitution) confirms under Article 124(1) that the Somaliland “Police Force shall be responsible for protecting the peace and for enforcing the law, and (that) its structure and duties shall be set out by law.”

 The main pre 1991 laws were  the  1972 Organisation of Police Force  (Law No. 2 of 23/12/1972), the 1973 Police Regulations (Decree No. 14 of 4/1/1973)  and the  1997 Police Uniform and Equipment Law (Law No. 30 of 13/8/1979). In Somaliland, these have all been superseded by the 1994 Law and the 1995 Regulations.


 The Somaliland Police Force has a training academy at Mandhera (which was set up during the Somaliland Protectorate) and, with the exception of some areas in the far east of the country, has stations through the regions and districts of Somaliland.


 Somaliland is currently engaged in re-organising and modernising the Somaliland Police Force.  The UNDP has provided considerable help to the Force. A number of consultation meetings has taken place last year about the re-organisation, structure (including ranking) of the Force and the adoption of new modern laws that emphasise the role of a modern police service in a democracy - See: Somaliland progress towards police reform (April 2010). A national Somaliland Police charter was adopted after a national convention on police reform held in April 2010. welcomes this long overdue reform and makes the following comments on the police reform agenda: {Highlighted points have been added on 30/03/2012}


1.    Main issues:

  • The objective of the reform should be the entrenchment of a culture of a “police service”, rather than a police force, and of respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the Somaliland Constitution. Strengthening our nascent democracy and ensuring that citizens enjoy fully their fundamental rights requires different policing policies and practices.
  • Central to any police reform is the ending of the Dictatorship era practice of including the police in the armed forces and making their members subject to Military Law. Article 2 (1) of the 1972 Police Law states categorically that the “police force is an integral part of the armed forces…” and Article 1 and 2 of the 1973 Regulations confirm that the members of the police force shall abide by the Military Laws including the Military Penal Code (see Article 41).  {Article 2 of the 1975 Somaliland Police Regulations follows the same tradition and states that  “ for the time being, the Police are members of the Armed forces of the Republic of Somaliland” ( Ciidanka Boliisku waa qayb ka mid Ciidamada Qalabka sida ee Jamhuuriyada JSL ku meel gaadh ahaan). The Somaliland police officers (and prisons officers) are therefore still subject to the Military laws in respect of all the offences of whatever nature that they may commit. This is above and beyond the police disciplinary offences which are dealt with under the 1975 Regulations}.
  •  Although the Somaliland Police has, as yet, no detailed established rank structure, many of the current command officers have served in the Somali Republic police and army and are more conversant with the military rank structure set out in Article 23 of the 1972 Police Law i.e senior officer ranks of General, Colonel, Major, Captain etc  {which are reproduced under Article 19 of the 1975 Regulations}.  This, in our view, further reinforces militaristic tendencies.  Police forces in many countries maintain discipline and hierarchical structure without necessarily adopting military ranks and laws.}
  • The maintenance of law and order in a post conflict society, like ours, makes necessary that the police should be suitably equipped and trained to deal both with situations that require fast mobile responses in rural areas and those that require crowd control in urban areas.
  • Old criminal laws relating to the public order and the old Penal Code provisions that, contrary to the fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the Somaliland Constitution, criminalise expressions of the freedoms of assembly and expression, such as some public order offences, offences against the dignity of public officials and criminal libel/slander, bring the Somaliland Police unnecessarily into an arena where they are seen as enforcing repressive old laws.
  • The problems of traffic and the ever increasing number of serious accidents which require considerable police involvement also need to be addressed separately.
  • Somaliland and the region is facing terrorism and this is an ever present challenge for the police force and the other security services, as well as the public at large.

2., therefore, recommends that in the forthcoming 2011 discussions about police reform and the drafting of a new Somaliland Police Law and Regulations,  the following  legal issues be taken into consideration:

  • The new law and regulations must emphasise the principles of accountability, respect for human rights and equality and must be based on the needs and circumstances of the Somaliland people and Republic.
  • The police provide a service to the Somaliland nation by protecting their law and order and is no longer a “force” that controls the Somaliland public. Enforcing the law of the land is not the same as  imposing the will, lawful or not, of whoever is in power. The rule of law applies to everyone.
  • Whilst there will be central divisions or units, the police in the stations in the regions and the district should also be accountable to their local elected district authorities. A system of police liaison committees at local station level will reinforce the community’s confidence in and support for the police. And so will the introduction of auxiliary or part time community police support at village or neighbourhood (xaafad) level.
  • It should be declared in the new law that the police are not part of the armed forces and that consequently the members of the police force (service) are subject to their own disciplinary rules in matters relating to the performance of their duties and to the normal criminal and civil laws in all other issues. Article 123 of the Somaliland Constitution deals separately with the national armed forces. The new police law should include transitional provisions which takes note of this fundamental change so that there is clarity about jurisdiction of the courts that can deal with offences during the transitional period.
  • In view of the real and present threats to the Somaliland nation, the Police Law should include a provision which allows the President (and the Parliament) under the Emergency provisions of the Constitution to assign some police divisions to serve in military operations in times of constitutionally declared war or emergency. In such situations the police officers affected shall acquire the responsibilities and privileges of the military ranks corresponding to their police ranks.
  • Notwithstanding the above, and to underline the non-military nature of the Somaliland Police, we recommend that the pre 1960 Somaliland police rank structure (with some modification) be adopted as follows:
  • (a) Commissioner

    (b) Deputy Commissioner

    (c) Commander

    (d) Chief Superintendent

    (e) Superintendent

    (f) Chief Inspector

    (g)  Inspector

    (h)  Cadet Inspector (trainee)

    (i)  Senior Sergeant

    (j)  Sergeant


    (l) Constable (Askari)

    (m) Cadet Constable (trainee)

  •  On the structure, other than the regional and district stations,  some of the central divisions and units can be:
  • (a)  A Criminal Investigation Division (CID)

    (b)  A Traffic Division.

    (c)  A Mobile Division.

    (d)  A Special Division (which can also deal with anti-terrorism).

    (f)  An Immigration & Border Control Division (but not dealing with the issue of Somaliland passports or nationality identity cards).

    (e)  A Transport Division.

    (g)   A Communication & Equipment Division.

    (e)  An Administration & Training Division.

    (f)  Community liaison and complaints unit.

    (g) Specialist operational units.

    (f)  The Police Academy.                   

  • A complaints unit that deals with public complaints. This unit will have specific responsibility for investigating allegations including those relating to abuse of human rights. Redress through the Somaliland Human Rights Commission Law (which has recently come into force) and the courts shall also be available to complainants.
  • On staffing of new officers, we would recommend a set aside of places for a fast stream recruitment system for university law graduates who fulfil the necessary job requirements.
  • Finally there is an urgent need for changing the old laws dealing with public order and the Penal Code provisions that are inconsistent with the modern human rights law. As an immediate step libel and slander criminal laws should be repealed and replaced by civil laws that protect the rights of individuals.  This will remove the police from involvement in these issues. The current review of the public order laws must also be speeded up.

POLICE POWERS under the Criminal Procedure Code  (to follow)



Annual Statistics provided by the Somaliland Police:

Nov 2009 - Nov 2010




Nov 2005 - Nov 2006











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