An Interview with the Acting Chief Justice of Puntland Supreme Court

Puntland judiciary has faced criticisms about non-enforcement of a capital punishment ruling against three men who were found guilty of gang-raping and murdering Aisha Ilyas. Abdirahman Isse Omar of Puntland Post sat interviewed Nur Issie Mohamed, the  Acting Chief Justice of Puntland Supreme Court. After this interview, the Supreme Court of Puntland had set a date for execution of  the convicted men.

Puntland Post: Why does the court judgement against convicted rapists and murders of Aisha Ilyas remain unenforced?

Acting Chief Justice: As you know this case has passed through several stages in Puntland. On 12  May 2019 the First Level Court has sentenced the  three men to death. On 20 June 2019, The Court of Appeal upheld the judgement. On 25 August 2019 the Supreme Court upheld the same judgment. The convicted men asked for a judicial review. The Supreme Court rejected the judicial review request. The case is now with the Supreme Court and  is awaiting enforcement.

Nur Isse Mohamed: Puntland Judiciary is independent

Puntland Post: There is a letter from Puntland Attorney General’s Office making rounds in the social media. In the letter the Attorney General’s Office is asking for the implementation of the court judgements.

Nur Isse Mohamed: First of all  the job of the judiciary is not politics. It is about dispensing justice. The correspondence between the Attorney General’s Office and the Supreme Court  should not have been shared in the social media. That is a crime. The Supreme Court  is not aware of the letter being shared in the social media. There was a correspondence from the Attorney General’s Office about the enforcement of the court ruling. The letter was incomplete as far as capital punishment procedures are concerned. The letters of inheritance and permission to execute the convicted men should have been attached with the Attorney General’s letter. The family has three options: to accept blood-money, to forgive or to  give the government the permission to execute the convicted murder. The Attorney General’ Office  is duty-bound to submit the enforcement  file to us. We have not received either the enforcement letter or the permission and inheritance letters. That is why the delay in enforcing the court ruling has happened.

Puntland Post: Is Puntland President required to sign the execution enforcement letter?

Nur Isse Mohamed: The President of  Puntland State only signs martial law court rulings involving a soldier or an Al-shabaab member found guilty of terrorism . The  case in question has been dealt with in a civil law court in line with the Somali Penal Code.

Puntland Post:  Any concluding thoughts?

Nur Isse Mohamed:  Puntland  judiciary is doing a great job  despite challenges. Aisha’s case has grabbed attention of  the people to a point that one can think people like to assume the role of judges. Puntland judiciary does not give in to any pressures nor is there any pressure exerted on our work for political purposes. We urge people to understand the difference between the work of the judiciary and politics. Sometimes one can hear a case being described as politically motivated or influenced by the government. I beg to differ. Puntland judiciary is fully independent.

© Puntland Post Monthly, 2020

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