MOGADISHU, SOMALIA - In a nation long marred by conflict, corruption and impunity, Somalia's government is hoping to rebuild the country's justice system and, for the first time, has brought on board six female prosecutors.
Abdullahi Ahmed Jamaa, Somalia’s justice minister, has high expectations for the new prosecutors.
“You have all been given a major role to play in the justice sector," he told them. "You are expected to offer justice to society. All of you are required to uphold the principles of fairness and equality before the law. And I have trust and confidence that the new six female prosecutors will deliver on these promises."
After the fall of President Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, Somalia's court system stopped working. And with no rule of law for years, impunity, corruption, nepotism and favoritism took the place of justice in the East African nation.
Samira Hussein Daud, one of the new prosecutors, is a graduate of Somalia National University and Malaysia University. She said she hopes to use the knowledge she acquired to make the courts fair again.
"Our main priority is to fight corruption," she said. "We have received many complaints from the public, complaining of no justice and court structures. People have complained to us that corruption is used to determine justice in this country. We will eradicate corruption and restore equal rule of law, justice and fairness in the Somali justice system."
The country’s senior law officials want the six women to pay special attention to crimes against women and children, which usually go unpunished in Somalia.
“There is one major thing that is expected of you," Ahmed Ali Dahir, Somalia's attorney general, told the new prosecutors. "Both my office and that of my deputy will assist you in tackling crimes against women, children and the underprivileged in the society. Their cases should be dealt with first and given priority."
Full legal rights
Somalia's justice system now has at least 17 prosecutors. Plans are underway to deploy at least one in every region of the country.
Once that happens, the government hopes that prisoners in detention centers will effectively be granted full legal rights and be presented in courts for trial.
Somalia has a long way to go to rebuild its justice system, but experts say that the addition of the new prosecutors is a major step toward returning law and order to a strife-torn nation.