Expanding Access to Justice (EAJ)

Speeches Shim

EAJ works to improve access to higher quality justice services in Somalia. By promoting greater community inclusion in formal and informal justice processes, increasing the quality and reach of justice services, and assisting aggrieved community members to navigate existing justice pathways, EAJ is contributing to stability in Somalia through lasting improvements in access to justice and effective mechanisms to address grievances.


Somalia suffers from weak governance and fragile rule of law. As a result, Somalis often face discrimination when seeking justice. They often are not well informed about their rights.
Justice is even more challenging for marginalized segments of society, including women, youth, internally displaced persons, members of minority clans, and other vulnerable groups.
The absence of proper judicial systems is often cited as one of the root causes of instability in the country and the perpetuation of violent extremism. If their justice needs and grievances are not properly addressed, these marginalized groups can become potential community “destabilizers” or be exploited by violent extremist groups such as al-Shabaab.


EAJ provides assistance to identify judicial resources to address existing and emerging grievances. It empowers individuals to address their grievances by developing justice solutions, which involves strengthening institutions and inclusive committees for resolving those grievances. EAJ does this through three complementary core elements: 1) Community-Based Justice Assistance and Awareness, 2) Model Courts, and 3) Justice Committees.

  • Community-Based Justice Assistance and Awareness: EAJ funds locally-led non-governmental organizations that train, deploy, and supervise Somalia’s first ever network of Justice Promoters (community-based paralegals and volunteers). These community volunteers are equipped to help individuals identify their best pathway between State, customary (Xeer-based), and Shari’ah-based institutions as they seek solutions for their justice needs.
  • Model Courts: EAJ supports efforts to strengthen the service delivery capacity of local State-run justice institutions by establishing Somalia’s first ever Model Courts in the Wadajir District of Mogadishu and in the Afgoye District in the Lower Shabelle Region. Working closely with the Chief Justice of the Federal Government of Somalia and local judiciary, EAJ oversees the development of physical court infrastructure and strengthens the court’s institutional capacity, including efforts to establish a Judges’ Forum to promote constructive dialogue among judges on how to overcome barriers, identify lessons learned, and encourage alternate pathways and models for improved justice service delivery.
  • Justice Committees: To foster community engagement and trust in the Model Courts, EAJ supports the creation of Somalia’s first ever Court User Committees. These two pilot committees serve as inclusive forums where communities can voice their justice expectations, issues, and needs, while holding justice actors accountable and jointly generating solutions with them.


EAJ partners with Somali-led organizations to increase access for marginalized communities and strengthen the capacity of judicial mechanisms to resolve grievances peacefully. These organizations are increasing the reach, availability, and accessibility of justice services, especially for Somali women facing gender-based violence (GBV). EAJ’s support is improving GBV referral options, facilitating better referrals to different services for survivors of GBV crimes, as well as supporting local organizations to change community perceptions of GBV and women’s rights.


  • Funding Level: $25 million
  • Duration: August 2018 – August 2023
  • Activity Locations: Banadir Regional Administration (Mogadishu), South West State, and Somaliland
  • Implementing Partners: Freedom House Pact American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative
  • Key Local Partners: Somalia Community Action Group, Action for Development Research, Somali Women’s Development Centre, City University, Mogadishu University, Somaliland Women Lawyers Association, Academy for Development & Advocacy for Minorities, Bay Women Development Organization, Lifeline Organization Somalia and Somali Disability Empowerment Network.
Issuing Country 
Monday, May 30, 2022 - 8:30am

Last updated: September 08, 2022