Tonight, again, we sat at tea-table in Garowe, Puntland, for a chit-chat to exchange news on daily events in Somalia and around the world. Like typical Somali conversations under similar circumstances, the issues covered were wide and hopelessly scattered- some of us chiming in with out-of-topic subjects and boring life stories. Others talk in monotone hard to tolerate and maintain attention span. Suddenly the theme of discussion turned into the subject of justice. Luckily, there was a lawyer among us. Since most of us weren’t lawyers, we tried to show respect to the legal argument of our lawyer-friend. Incidentally, a colleague in the gathering said, “there are two kinds of judicial philosophy: The Oriental and Western”. The lawyer jumped in to ask, “what are you talking about? There is no such thing?
The other guy responded, “I mean that in the penal code or criminal law, the burden of proof of the accused is on the government in Western system of justice, while the burden of proof is on the accused in most Eastern countries”. The lawyer, irritably asked, “are you talking about the Sharia law?” The lawyer seemed puzzled, as if he has heard about this judicial distinction for the first time.
Another interculator dropped in his observation: “Somalis are now accusing each other everyday through the media outlets and social media on all sorts of malfeasances with no proof and no possibility or means to defend themselves. We are helpless against unscrupulous media persons. This is partly what is wrong with Somalia. It is endless civil war in par with extremists’ activities. Let us ask the lawyer what to do about it”.

Another colleague interjected saying, ”there is no absolute justice – you must always take it into context. But what impressed me most is the Qur’anic verse on the Walls of Havard University in the US about selflessly delivering justice” (see feature photo, Surah AnNisa, 4:135.)

As usual, the attention span of Somali debate on specific subject is limited, and the debate drifted again over to wondering generalities and meaningless specifics.

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