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''Xeer'' (pronounced ) is the traditional
legal system The contemporary national legal systems are generally based on one of four basic systems A system is a group of interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and infl ...
of
Somalia Somalia,, Osmanya script: 𐒈𐒝𐒑𐒛𐒐𐒘𐒕𐒖; ar, الصومال, aṣ-Ṣūmāl officially the Federal Republic of SomaliaThe ''Federal Republic of Somalia'' is the country's name per Article 1 of thProvisional Constitutio ...

Somalia
,
Somaliland Somaliland ( so, Soomaaliland; ar, صوماليلاند ', '), officially the Republic of Somaliland ( so, Jamhuuriyadda Soomaaliland, ar, جمهورية صوماليلاند ''Jumhūrīyat Ṣūmālīlānd''), is a de facto sovereign ...

Somaliland
,
Djibouti Djibouti, ar, جيبوتي ', french: link=no, Djibouti, so, Jabuuti officially the Republic of Djibouti, is a country located in the Horn of Africa The Horn of Africa (HoA), also known as the Somali Peninsula, is a large peninsu ...

Djibouti
,
Somali Region The Somali Region ( so, Dawlad Deegaanka Soomaalida, am, ሱማሌ ክልል, ar, المنطقة الصومالية), also known as Soomaali Galbeed (''Somali West'') is a regional state A regional state or a regionalised unitary state, is ...

Somali Region
, and one of the three systems from which formal Somali
law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its bounda ...
draws its inspiration, the others being
civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as England and Wales and the law of the United ...
and
Islamic law Sharia (; ar, شريعة, sharīʿa ) is a religious law Religious law includes ethical and moral codes taught by religious traditions. Different religious systems hold sacred law in a greater or lesser degree of importance to their beli ...
. It is believed to pre-date
Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", "ah gawd"; see interjection An interjection is a word or ex ...
, although it was influenced by Islam and retains the faith elements, the proceeding under rule pre-date Islam. Under this system,
elders An elder is someone with a degree of seniority or authority. Elder or elders may refer to: Positions Administrative * Elder (administrative title), a position of authority Cultural * American Indian elder, a person who has and transmits cul ...
, known as the serve as
mediator Mediator may refer to: *A person who engages in mediation Mediation is a structured, interactive process where an impartial third party assists disputing parties in resolving conflict through the use of specialized communication and negotia ...

mediator
judge A judge is a person who presides over court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In th ...

judge
s and help settle
court case A legal case is in a general sense a dispute between opposing parties which may be resolved by a court, or by some equivalent legal process. A legal case is typically based on either Civil law (common law), civil or criminal law. In most legal ca ...

court case
s, taking
precedent A precedent is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case A legal case is in a general sense a dispute between opposing parties which may be resolved by a court A court is any person or institution, often as a government inst ...
and
custom Custom may refer to: Sense: Customary * Convention (norm) A convention is a set of agreed, stipulated, or generally accepted standards, norms, social norms, or criteria, often taking the form of a custom. In a social context, a convention m ...
into account.Legal Affairs
/ref> Xeer is
polycentric Polycentric is an English adjective, meaning "having more than one center," derived from the Greek words ''polús'' ("many") and ''kentrikós'' ("center"). Polycentricism (or polycentricity) is the abstract noun formed from polycentric. They may r ...
in that different groups within Somali society have different interpretations of xeer.


Application of ''xeer''

Somali society The Somalis ( so, Soomaalida 𐒈𐒝𐒑𐒛𐒐𐒘𐒆𐒖, ar, صوماليون) are an Cushitic peoples, East Cushitic ethnic group native to the Horn of Africa who share a common ancestry, culture and history. The Somali language is the ...
is traditionally structured around a
clan A clan is a group of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of ...

clan
based system, subdivided into
sub-clan A clan is a group of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic Logic ...
s, then lineages, and finally ''mag'' groupings. These groups are bound together either by
family ties In anthropology Anthropology is the of ity, concerned with , , , and , in both the present and past, including . studies patterns of behaviour, while studies cultural meaning, including norms and values. studies how language influen ...

family ties
or
contract A contract is a legally binding agreement that defines and governs the rights and duties between or among its parties Image:'Hip, Hip, Hurrah! Artist Festival at Skagen', by Peder Severin Krøyer (1888) Demisted with DXO PhotoLab Clearview ...

contract
. ''Xeer''
justice Justice, in its broadest sense, is the principle that people receive that which they deserve, with the interpretation of what then constitutes "deserving" being impacted upon by numerous fields, with many differing viewpoints and perspectives, ...

justice
usually revolves around the latter groups, as these are the smallest. In these groups, each member is responsible for the
crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper ...

crime
s of another, and must accordingly bear some fraction of any decided
punishment Punishment, commonly, is the imposition of an undesirable or unpleasant outcome upon a group or individual, meted out by an authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of soci ...

punishment
. Within this system, only the
victim Victim may refer to: Films and television * ''The Victim'' (1916 film), an American silent film by the Fox Film Corporation starring vamp Valeska Suratt * ''The Victim'' (1930 film), an American film starring Frank Orth and Esther Howard * Vict ...
or immediate family of a victim can bring
criminal proceedings Criminal procedure is the adjudication Adjudication is the legal process by which an arbitration, arbiter or judge reviews evidence (law), evidence and argumentation, including legal reasoning set forth by opposing parties or litigants, to come ...
to ''xeer'' mediation. If the victim is a man, his father, brothers, or uncles can bring complaints forward. If the victim is a woman, complaints can be brought forward by the men in her family or the men in her husband's family. In ''xeer'', crimes are defined in terms of being transgressions against
property rights The right to property, or the right to own property (cf. ownership Ownership is the state or fact of exclusive right In Anglo-Saxon law Anglo-Saxon law (Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the En ...
. Justice is directed in the form of material compensation to the victim. If the accused is found guilty, some form of material
restitution The law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by ...

restitution
must be paid. If restitution cannot be given, ''mag'' retribution is due, measured in terms of
livestock Livestock are the domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to secure a more predictabl ...
(usually healthy female
camel A camel is an even-toed ungulate The even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla , ) are ungulates—hoofed animals—which bear weight equally on two (an even number) of their five toes: the third and fourth. The other three toes are either present, ...

camel
s), to be paid to the victim or the victim's family. There is no concept of
imprisonment Imprisonment (from , via French language, French , originally from atin, arrest, from , , "to seize") in law is the specific state of being physically incarcerated or confined in an institutional setting such as a prison. When it comes to iss ...
under ''xee''r. In some cases,
elders An elder is someone with a degree of seniority or authority. Elder or elders may refer to: Positions Administrative * Elder (administrative title), a position of authority Cultural * American Indian elder, a person who has and transmits cul ...
may advise that neither side seeks restitution or retribution. The
verdict In law, a verdict is the formal trier of fact, finding of fact made by a jury on matters or questions submitted to the jury by a judge. In a bench trial, the judge's decision near the end of the trial is simply referred to as a finding. In Engl ...
is enforced by the victim's family or else by all able-bodied clansmen within the area wherein the verdict is to be executed.Somalia: A Tradition of Law, by Nicola Gladitz. ''Xeer'' judges are made up of the heads of
extended families An extended family is a family that extends beyond the nuclear family, consisting of parents like father, mother, and their children, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins, all living in the same household. Particular forms include the stem ...

extended families
. These family heads are chosen for their knowledge of law and
wisdom Wisdom, sapience, or sagacity is the ability to contemplate and act using knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a state ...

wisdom
, but otherwise there is no formal training, and each judge is allowed to formulate their own
doctrine Doctrine (from la, Wikt:doctrina, doctrina, meaning "teaching, instruction") is a codification (law), codification of beliefs or a body of teacher, teachings or instructions, taught Value (personal and cultural), principles or positions, as the e ...

doctrine
s and
legal principle A legal doctrine is a framework, set of rules, procedural steps, or test Test(s), testing, or TEST may refer to: * Test (assessment), an educational assessment intended to measure the respondents' knowledge or other abilities Arts and ente ...
s. Multiple judges are chosen to preside over each case by the involved parties, with this delegation being called an "ergo". The number of judges involved in a case is usually around ten, though it can be as few as two. In each case, the goal is to reach
consensus Consensus decision-making or consensus politics (often abbreviated to ''consensus'') is group decision-making processes in which participants develop and decide on proposals with the aim, or requirement, of acceptance by all. The focus on es ...

consensus
between the parties. Arbitration traditionally takes place under a large tree, and the mediators ask each of the parties to submit to the ruling of the judges. In modern times, meeting halls are often used as opposed to sitting under a tree. Each party has the right to appoint advocate, a representative to speak on its behalf, while a recorder loudly repeats any important points that are made. If a fact is disputed, its veracity must be obtained by the testimony of three witnesses. If this cannot be done, an oath must be sworn. Should proceedings become heated, the presiding judge may order a recess, wherein both parties discuss issues relating to the case in small informal groups. Once the mediation has been decided, an appeal may be requested, although this must be agreed to by all parties.


Principles of ''xeer''

Different groups within Somali society undertake oral agreements with each other to define ''xeer'' law. Despite this informal nature, there is a series of customary law, generally accepted principles, agreements, and ideas that constitute ''xeer'', referred to collectively as "''xissi adkaaday''". These are: *the payment of ''mag'' by the collective group (clan, sub-clan, lineage, or mag group) from which an offender originates as Financial compensation, compensation for the crimes of murder, battery (crime), bodily assault, theft, rape, and defamation of character, given to the victim or victim's family; *the protection of vulnerable or respected members of society such as the elderly, women, children, poets, guests and religion, religious people *obligations to the family such as the payment of a dowry to a bride *the rights of a Widow, widower to marry the dead wife's sister and the inheritance of a widow by the dead man's brother *the punishments for elopement *and the division and use of natural resources like water and land.


See also

* Adat (Malays (ethnic group), Malays of Nusantara) * Anglo-Saxon law (England) * Gadaa (Oromo people, Oromo) * Aqsaqal (Central Asia) * Coutume (France) * Customary Aboriginal law (Australia) * Early Germanic law * Early Irish law (Ireland) * Frith-borh * Kanun (Albania) * Kritarchy * Leges inter Brettos et Scottos, Laws of the Brets and Scots (Scotland) * Medieval Scandinavian laws * Pashtunwali and Jirga (Pashtun people, Pashtuns of Pakistan and Afghanistan) * Smriti and Ācāra (India) * Urf (Arab world/Islamic law) * Vlach law (Romanians) * Welsh Law (Wales)


References


Sources

*Abdile, Mahdi. 2012. Customary Dispute Resolution in Somalia. ''African Conflict & Peacebuilding Review'', Volume 2, Number 1: 87-110. *Gladitz, Nicola. Somalia: A Tradition of Law *Michael van Notten, Van Notten, Michael. The Law of the Somalis: A Stable Foundation for Economic Development in the Horn of Africa, 2005.


External links

*https://mises.org/library/rule-law-without-state {{Conformity Somalian law Courts by type Customary legal systems Ancient Somalia Collectivism