Today, a new expanding access to justice program funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was launched, in a ceremony observed by the Somaliland Minister of Justice, H.E. Abdiqani Mahmoud Ateye.
“Expanding access to justice for Somalis is a key objective of US development assistance. USAID’s Expanding Access to Justice Program supports the creation of an enabling environment that protects and promotes basic human rights and supports key actors – legal aid clinics, paralegal networks, civil society advocates, academic institutions – to enhance the quality of legal services, expand access to justice and safeguard citizen security,” said Jeffrey N. Bakken, Head of Development Cooperation at USAID.
The Expanding Access to Justice (EAJ) program in Somaliland is being implemented by Pact and the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI), in partnership with local legal aid organizations and the Ministry of Justice. The program’s goal is to support sustainable improvements to the quality and reach of legal aid services by formal and informal justice actors, as well as increasing citizens’ legal awareness on how best to access justice. It will also support efforts by the government and civil society justice actors to expand access to justice across Somaliland. The program is particularly interested in supporting the use of appropriate community-based paralegals models. In doing so, EAJ aligns itself with Somaliland’s commitments to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG16).
“The Ministry of Justice is responsible for the justice services in Somaliland. We are delighted to have signed the letter of intent to cooperate with Expanding Access to Justice Program (EAJ) today. We affirm our commitment to continue improving access to justice in Somaliland, and I would like to thank USAID for the generous funding of the Expanding Access to Justice program,” Ateye said.
Part of the EAJ’s strategy will involve providing a range of grants to local organizations to support them in expanding legal aid services. As part of its commitment to promoting gender equality and social inclusion, EAJ will be making available legal scholarships to young women and persons from marginalized groups.In order to bring together the skills and resources of government and civil society justice actors, EAJ will also support Ministry of Justice-led efforts by facilitating collaboration through an “Access to Justice Network.”
The program is being guided by ongoing research that will inform the most effective forms of technical support to strengthen justice actors’ institutional capacity to manage their organizations effectively.