Hargeisa 29 September 2015-- As part of the UN Joint Programme on Local Governance and Decentralized Service Delivery, the Ministry of Interior of Somaliland, UN-Habitat, and Legal Action Worldwide (LAW) hosted the first training for the Somaliland Land Dispute Tribunals (LDTs) recently.
The LDTs were established in Hargeisa by the Ministry of Interior in 2010, and subsequently in Borama and Berbera in 2014/2015. The tribunals were established in response to a sharp rise in disputes over urban land and land grabbing that has occurred over the last decade.
In Somaliland, 80 percent of court cases relate to land.
The customary system and the formal courts have struggled to effectively resolve these disputes. The land tribunals attempt to resolve these problems by functioning as a hybrid body, borrowing from the advantages of both the formal and the customary systems and resolving disputes over urban land in a manner that is efficient, accessible, and fair.
Over the last five years, the LDT system has resolved numerous cases and offered an alternative route for accessing and protecting land rights. However, the LDTs still face challenges related to the harmonization of formal and customary law, contradictions in the jurisdictions, and lengthy procedures imposed by its regulation.
The purpose of the August training was to provide some guidance to the members of the Hargeisa, Berbera, and Borama tribunals regarding the process of resolving disputes, as well as to identify current challenges and work with the members and other legal professionals to develop recommendations for overcoming these.
The training consisted of one day of training on the current LDT regulations, including identifying the gaps and weaknesses in those regulations and discussing ways in which they may be overcome. The following two days, the trainees participated in mock hearings and discussed lessons learned from the comparative jurisdictions.
The Director General of the Ministry of Interior, Abdisamad Omar Maal, attended Day 2 of the training and pointed out the importance of the training for the urban LDT members in terms of implementing urban land dispute management regulations. He also noted the importance of the meeting for sharing experiences related to pre-hearing, hearing, and post-hearing procedures of urban land dispute management.
The Chairperson of the Berbera LDT, Mahmoud Du’ale Suleiman, found the discussions over the three days to be fruitful and relevant, adding that he hoped more such trainings would be run for LDT members in Berbera in the future. These statements were echoed by the UN-Habitat Land Programme Manager, Teresa Del Ministro, who expressed satisfaction with the methodologies and outcomes of the training. Overall, the trainees expressed high levels of satisfaction.
The three days were successful both in providing guidance to the LDT members in carrying out their duties and identifying weaknesses in the current regulations, practices, and procedures. These challenges will be addressed throughout the year-long project in the LDTs, which is coordinated by the Ministry of Interior and supported by UN-Habitat and Legal Action Worldwide.
For further information:
Teresa Del Ministro Land Programme Manager, UN-Habitat
Clare T. Brown Legal Advisor, Legal Action Worldwide
Abdisamad Omar Mal Director General, Ministry of Interior of Somaliland