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Somali magistrates wanted by courts

Merlene Carrington JP (left) & Somali Family Support Group members

Operation Black Vote has organised a free event to encourage more members of the Somali community to consider becoming magistrates.

OBV and the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), this year, celebrated the appointment of over sixty magistrates to courts across the UK . All the magistrates were encouraged to apply as a result of taking part in the Magistrate Shadowing Scheme.

The scheme is a joint partnership of OBV and the MoJ, it raises awareness among local communities about the work of the courts and the role of magistrates; and encourages people from minority communities to consider applying to become a magistrate (Justice of the Peace).

But OBV and the MOJ recognise that there are still community groups that are underrepresented within the court system.

Areas where there are significant numbers of Somali locals would especially benefit from having members of their community reflected among magistrates on the court’s benches.

There is an estimated 93,000 Somalis in the UK with the majority residing in the south East. The seminar presents the opportunity for the Somali community to gather information about taking up influential positions in society, and consider making an important contribution within a public institution – the Criminal Justice System.

Adam Dirr, editor of Somali Eye and an avid campaigner wants to see the Somali community use its energy and passion to get involved in public life. He says:

“We had over 18 people stand as councillors in the last elections, some were successful others were not. But the important thing is that they stepped up as responsible citizens to help make a difference to our political and economic future.

“We need others to represent us within the courts. You don’t have to have any legal qualifications, just the will to want to make a difference. This invitation is a chance we must not miss, the courts are calling for our service, let us serve justice and our community.”

Merlene Carrington JP, the scheme’s Project Co-ordinator says:

“From time to time we target particular minority groups who are not represented on Magistrates’ benches. These have included the Korean and Turkish communities. We know there are many within the Somali community who would make excellent magistrates. All we need is for them to come and find out more. Attending the seminar will also mean that they will learn about the courts and make a recommendation to others.”

The free one-day seminar ‘A Judiciary for All’, will be led by magistrates and court officials. Those who attend will have the opportunity to deliberate sample cases and discuss the application process. And in some areas they will be given a court tour.

The seminar presentations will place the magistrates’ court within the context of the Criminal Justice System and explain all aspects of the character and time commitments required of individuals who wish to apply to become a magistrate.

The seminar will fully arm everyone with enough information to make an informed decision about whether or not they should pursue a position as a magistrate.

The free one-day seminar will be held end of September 2010.

Download a booking form here.

For further information please contact Merlene Carrington by telephone on 0208 983 5430 or email: mag@obv.org.uk quoting ‘Regional Seminars’ in the subject field.

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