In February 2023, the IIJ travelled to Nairobi for its first-ever National Workshop for Somali Stakeholders, a four-day session to reinforce Somalia’s legal framework and mechanisms for mutual legal assistance (MLA) and extradition. The event, the second in a Canada-funded project to strengthen international judicial cooperation in and between Somalia and Kenya, gathered for the first time all key institutions that play a role in Somalian MLA and extradition, including the regional courts, Somali National Police, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, defence bar, and Office of the Attorney General. Practitioners from Kenya and Tanzania, as well as IIJ’s international partners, UNODC, OPDAT and EUCAP, also contributed to the event and pledged their support for ongoing reforms.
During the workshop, opened by Somali Attorney General Sulayman Mohamed Mohamoud, the participants debated the current Somali legal framework and practice on international judicial cooperation, Somalia’s international legal obligations under regional judicial cooperation treaties and the UN Convention Against Corruption, as well as the IIJ’s Good Practices on Central Authorities. To further emphasise the necessity and urgency of ongoing constitutional and legislative reforms in Somalia, including in judicial cooperation, workshop participants drafted a communiqué recommending that Somalia’s leadership establish a taskforce to develop the architecture of a comprehensive and effective MLA and extradition system. In addition, participants recommended that until comprehensive legislation can be drafted, the Office of the Attorney General be designated central authority for MLA and the Ministry of Justice take the lead on extradition.
The IIJ will convene a second meeting of Somali practitioners in late Spring 2023 to continue reform efforts initiated at the February workshop. In the interim, it will return to Nairobi in April 2023 to host the second workshop for Kenyan practitioners, following up on a gathering in December 2022 where Kenya’s Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions finalized its internal guidelines on MLA and other Kenyan stakeholders agreed on next steps to reinforce the existing MLA framework. A final event, tentatively scheduled for July 2023, will gather Somali and Kenyan practitioners to launch a bilateral dialogue to improve how they share information, evidence and suspects in cases with international implications.