The Justice Promoter Approach

EAJ will support the roll-out of a Justice Promoter model among partner legal aid organizations (LAOs). This is a key component of sustainably anchoring both localization and individual empowerment towards procedural justice, especially in previously underserved communities and rural areas, and displaced communities that combine both of these characteristics.These communities have often had little to no exposure to statutory justice institutions in decades of state collapse and civil war. Even today, fledgling courts and police are limited to urban centers, leaving new arrivals, large parts of Somalia’s less educated or illiterate population, and rural communities with little understanding of the pluralist justice landscape.

The Justice Promoter approach, which is a community-based paralegal model contextualized to Somalia, will seek to establish justice promoters as a first port of call for justice seekers and dedicated resources for vulnerable individuals within their communities. Justice Promoters will support individuals in identifying their optimal pathway through the pluralistic justice environment, between xeer and shari’ah forums, state courts, and peace committees that bridge these institutions. By exploring their clients’ interests and evaluating likely benefits and costs of varied justice assistance venues, as well as possible outcomes of different strategies, Justice Promoters will not only address immediate justice needs, but will enhance understanding of justice services and thereby lastingly empower individual justice seekers. 

In each community, one female and one male Justice Promoter will be selected, in consultation with community members, and from among community members with good social-standing and in-depth knowledge of local socio-political structures. The Justice Promoter model will leverage this pre-existing social capital. EAJ’s local partners will ensure that, in communities with different sub-clans, Justice Promoters represent different social groups.

EAJ will work with LAO staff to train Justice Promoters and will emphasize an in-depth understanding of the legally plural justice landscape, which requires the ability of navigating xeershari’ah, and state courts. In cases in which an aggrieved party decides that they wish to address a state court, the Justice Promoter will work closely with local LAOs, which can provide legal advice and assistance via a lawyer and can offer support bringing the case to court. The voluntary nature of the Justice Promoter model will promote the sustainability of the program’s impact beyond the conclusion of funding support through EAJ.