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Somaliland: Minister for Justice revokes license of human rights lawyer

The Minister for Justice and Judicial Affairs of Somaliland should immediately repeal his decision to revoke the license of human rights lawyer Guleid Ahmed Jama, said DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project) today.

On 16 May 2016, a letter signed by the Minister for Justice requesting that the Chief Justice of Somaliland revoke the license of Guleid Ahmed Jama was made public. Guleid is a prominent human rights lawyer and the chairperson of the Human Rights Center, a leading human rights organisation in Hargeisa.

In the letter, dated 10 April 2016, the Minister for Justice accused Guleid of committing a violation by being both a lawyer and the chairperson of a human rights organisation. Guleid and the Human Rights Center had previously worked on the case of Saado Jaamac Aadan, a civilian who was arrested by police, charged in a closed military court and denied access to a lawyer in March 2016.

Guleid wrote a letter to the Office of the Attorney General and the Minister for Justice on 16 March 2016 denouncing the unconstitutional arrest and detention of Mrs Aadan by a military court, and demanding that the her trial be transferred to a civilian court.

According to Somaliland law, the Advocates Licensing and Disciplining Commission has the power to revoke a lawyer’s license, not the Minister for Justice. This can only be done after a thorough investigation is conducted into the allegations and a fair hearing has taken place.

DefendDefenders condemns the Minister for Justice’s abuse of power and obstruction to Guleid’s human rights work, and urges the Chief Justice of Somaliland to quash this decision and allow Guleid to practice law and continue his vital human rights work free from administrative and legal harassment.

In April 2015, Guleid was arrested after giving an interview to the BBC discussing recent executions by Somaliland authorities, and the need for judicial reforms. He was released after going on hunger strike to protest his imprisonment.



Human Rights Defender of the month: Leon Ntakiyiruta

As a child, Leon wanted to be a magistrate – whom he saw as agents of justice. Born in 1983 in Burundi’s Southern province, he came of age at a time of great social and political upheaval in the East African country. In 1993 when Leon was barely 10, Burundi was besieged by a civil war that would last for the next 12 years until 2005, characterized by indiscriminate violence and gross human rights abuses in which over 300,000 people are estimated to have died.In 2012, still struggling to find her footing in Kampala, Aida was introduced to DefendDefenders, where she was introduced to the organisation’s resource center, and assured, it (the center) would be at her disposal whenever she needed to use it.