Horizon Institute's Somaliland Paralegal Project works to provide legal empowerment to the most vulnerable members of Somaliland society. Our paralegals work in IDP communities to equip Somalilanders who cannot afford a lawyer with basic knowledge of criminal law and procedure so they can better navigate the criminal justice system.
Horizon’s paralegals conduct legal empowerment through Paralegal Aid Clinics (PLCs). The PLCs use interactive learning techniques like forum theatre to teach members of the public criminal law. The PLCs cover topics from arrest to detention. The aim of this initiative is to empower beneficiaries with the necessary knowledge to represent themselves in court and the ability to advocate for their rights.
Our paralegals also identify serious cases to refer to legal aid lawyers. Horizon’s referral system takes a global access to justice approach, focusing on both criminal and civil cases.
Integral to the work of Horizon’s paralegals is human rights monitoring. Our paralegals monitor court proceedings to identify procedural injustices. Issues monitored include whether court started on time to whether or not the judge explained the charges to the defendant. This information is shared with the relevant justice sector actors to push for reforms.
The Somaliland Paralegal Project is a sub-project of the Locally Driven Justice Project. Funding is generously provided by the Department for International Development (DFID).
During February 2018, Clifford Msiska, a lawyer and the National Director of Paralegal Advisory Service Institute (PASI) Malawi, trained Horizon's first cadre of paralegals for our Somaliland Paralegal Project. The seven-day training provided Horizon's paralegal team with practical knowledge of legal theory and analysis, judgment, research, problem-solving, communication skills, understanding of ethics and organisational skills. The training equipped the paralegals with the basic skills they will need to provide legal empowerment to prisoners and members of the public in Somaliland.