Facilitating coordination to improve access to justice for all through USAID’s Expanding Access to Justice program

On Monday 15th April 2019, the USAID Expanding Access to Justice (EAJ) program in collaboration with the Somaliland Ministry of Justice (MOJ) successfully conducted the first Access to Justice Committee (A2JC) meeting in Hargeisa, Somaliland.

Chaired by the MOJ, the goal of the A2JC meetings is to strengthen coordination to achieve the shared goal of improving access to justice for all in Somaliland. With over 40 participants from MOJ, Somaliland Legal Aid Organizations (LAOs), International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs), UN agencies as well as EAJ staff, the meeting served as a platform for evidence-based discussion and decision-making on the access to justice sector innovation in all aspects of the justice service delivery, coordinating joint awareness-raising of the law, rights and access to justice services were also deliberated.

During meeting, MOJ’s Director General Abdirahman Sheikh Hassan, Abdirahman expounded on the role of the A2JC which include identifying existing challenges impeding access to justice, as well as opportunities for the improvement of access to justice. EAJ’s Chief of Party, Anton Pestana reiterated that, to respond to challenges and seize opportunities, the A2JC will create or, where already existing, convene Development Groups that will bring together interested parties to contribute through working group sessions and produce actionable deliverables in the form or tools or proposals for the improvement of access to justice.

“In this manner, Development Groups will be contributing by expanding on work that is already underway. EAJ will be providing technical and secretariat support to each Development Group. Women will be given priority and leadership roles of the Development Groups,” said Hamdi Ismail Abdulahi, the Project Director of EAJ.

Participants at the A2JC meeting had the chance to review the Terms of Reference (TORs) of the A2JC. It was agreed that the proposed A2JC members should be: the Ministry of Justice, the National Human Rights Commission, the police, Somaliland National Disability Forum (SNDF), The University of Hargeisa, Amoud University Legal Aid Clinic, Academy for Minority Groups (ADAM), Human Rights Centre (HRC), Somaliland Journalist Association (SOLJA), Somaliland Women Journalist Association (WIJA), Somaliland Lawyers Association (SOLA), Somaliland Women Lawyers Association (SWLA), Horizon Institute, Ministry of Constitution, Custodial Corps, LAOs, Legal Aid Clinic (LAC), traditional leaders, religious leaders and UN agencies.

The meeting ended with the commitment from committee members to continue contributing to the; identification of sectoral priorities through the creation of the A2JC Development Groups, development of the sectoral resources through the development, design and implementation of collaborative access to justice intervention where relevant. EAJ will continue extending its support to the A2JC coordination at the regional level through monthly meetings. The next meeting was planned for 15th July 2019 in Hargeisa, Somaliland.