Somali govt. resolves to crackdown on Al-Shabab ‘Shadow Courts’

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The government of Somalia has planned to crackdown on the ‘shadow courts’ run by the Islamist militant group called Al-Shabab.

Somalia’s new Interior Minister, Ahmed Moalim Figi who disclosed this said many Somalis go to the militants for justice believing that its legal system was weak but experts revealed that the planned closure of the shadow court would be difficult.

Yet, Figi maintained that within the week government has planned to wage war against the ‘shadow courts’ that al-Shabab runs in and around Mogadishu, the country’s capital.

He also assured that the al-Shabab courts within the next two years would be closed down.

The Interior Minister, however, regretted that there are people who go to the terrorist al-Shabab courts to seek justice due to a lack of enforcement of the government courts’ decisions but affirmed that government would close the al-Shabab courts around Mogadishu besides, the one located in Basra and on the outskirts of Dayniile district of Mogadishu.

The senior East Africa analyst for a research organization, the International Crisis Group, Omar Mahmood, told VOA that the group has invested in its justice sector and primarily focuses on land and contract disputes.

“For those using them voluntarily, pull factors include a reputation for lowered levels of corruption, less discrimination based on clan and high enforcement capacity compared to the government judicial system. The courts themselves are not always that sophisticated and the threat of brutal forces underpins them, but at the end of the day they have shown to be more effective in addressing the needs of some populations.”

But a Horn of Africa Analyst, Matt Bryden who is based in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi said the courts also operate in a way more accessible to many Somalis by invoking Islamic law.
Cracking down on the courts will be a formidable challenge, he maintained.

“First, the federal and state governments must earn the public’s trust in the state-run judicial system which is still in its infancy. Second, they must be able to protect citizens from al-Shabab violence, since the jihadists’ courts operate like a protection racket: either you obey their summons and abide by their rulings or Al-Shabab will mete out punishment – even in government-controlled areas.”

However, the executive director of Farsight Africa Research & Policy Studies, Abdirisak Aden said the government’s willingness to close the al-Shabab courts is commendable.

Aden said he believed the best way to fight al-Shabab courts was to get an active judicial system which works for the people and creates a friendly environment for the people who seek justice. He averred that it was unfortunate that everyone who thinks he lost a court case unfairly goes to al-Shabab courts.

But it was gathered that since the Taliban took over Afghanistan last year, al-Shabab reportedly built schools and hospitals in parts of Somalia they control in a bid to gain more popularity.

Yet, the group which has battled Somali governments for about 15 years, has not stopped carrying out attacks. Last month, it was reported that al-Shabab carried out suicidal attacks in the towns of Merca and Jowhar and killed about 25 people including senior officials.

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