Background of the Office of Attorney General
The Puntland Constitution established the Office of Attorney General (AG) as part of the judiciary organ. The Attorney General is the principal legal adviser to the Government and is appointed by the President from amongst persons qualified to hold office as a AG and then submit to the parliament for approval. The Attorney General (AG) is the principal State Prosecutor, assisted by his deputy and regional prosecutors. All offenses prosecuted in the name of the state must be instigated by the Attorney General or some other person authorized by him. In the exercise of these functions the AG is not subject to the control or direction of any person or authority other than the Higher Judicial Council. The Attorney General provides legal advice to the government – including ministries and state-owned enterprises – and represents the government in civil and criminal matters. The AG is supposed to have offices in all regions and districts of Puntland State of Somalia. The key thematic areas of the AG office are:
- Observing the application of the laws
- Preventing all forms of crimes and violations including SGPV in Puntland;
- Directing the investigation of crimes, and institute and prosecuting criminal charges before the court;
- Impeachment of the high ranking officers of the Government before the Courts.
- Overseeing the condition of prisons and rehabilitation centers;
- Safeguarding and protecting the rights of vulnerable groups including women, orphans, children, IDPs, refugees and the mentally disabled peoples.
The office of the attorney General is part of the judiciary, and is responsible to prosecute any accuser for committing a crime on behalf of the state as well as the society, and the office of the attorney General is subject only to the law. The seat of the office of the Attorney General is the capital city of Puntland, and has jurisdiction on the whole of the Puntland State. The institution of the Attorney General shall consist of:
- the Attorney General;
- deputy Attorney General
- Regional prosecutors of the Attorney General.
- Police Representatives of the prosecutors at districts
The office of AG and his deputy seat in the capital city Garowe. The Attorney General is the head of the Prosecution Service of Puntland. The AG may designate his deputy or one of his senior prosecutors to represent him to deal with administrative matters, but only the AG can order closing of a criminal case file.
Whenever he considers that public interest is involved, he institutes and conducts or intervenes in civil proceedings.
Article 12(4) of the Criminal Procedure Code provides for the jurisdiction of the AG, deputies and police prosecutors of the different administrative hierarchy. As such the Attorney General and his office at the Puntland State level are responsible to act on behalf of the state in criminal proceedings before the Supreme Court. At the regional level, either the AG himself, his deputies and police prosecutors are empowered to take part in criminal proceedings before the regional and appeal Courts. At the district level the AG office is represented by police officers.
However, case selection is undertaken according to the severity of the offence; specifically, all serious offences (e.g. murder) are allocated to the AG, his deputy and regional prosecutors, while other offences are carried by the regional and district level prosecutors.