Courts & Judgments

There is no national judicial system in Somalia.

The Transitional Charter, adopted in 2000, provides for an independent judiciary and for a High Commission of Justice, a Supreme Court, a Court of Appeal, and courts of first reference; however, the Charter had not been implemented by year's end. Some regions have established local courts that depend on the predominant local clan and associated factions for their authority. The judiciary in most regions relies on some combination of traditional and customary law, Shari'a law, the Penal Code of the pre-1991 Siad Barre Government, or some combination of the three. For example, in Bosasso and Afmadow, criminals are turned over to the families of their victims, which then exact blood compensation in keeping with local tradition. Under the system of customary justice, clans often hold entire opposing clans or sub-clans responsible for alleged violations by individuals.

Islamic Shari'a courts, which traditionally ruled in cases of civil and family law but extended their jurisdiction to criminal proceedings in some regions beginning in 1994, ceased to function effectively in the country during the year. The Islamic courts in Mogadishu gradually were absorbed during the year by the TNG, and the courts in Merka and Beledweyne ceased to function. In Berbera courts apply a combination of Shari'a law and the former Penal Code. In south Mogadishu, a segment of north Mogadishu, the Lower Shabelle, and parts of the Gedo and Hiran regions, court decisions are based on a combination of Shari'a and customary law. Throughout most of the country, customary law forms a basis for court decisions.

Source: U.S. Department of State