Published On: Tue, Mar 29th, 2011

Somaliland will not take foreign-seized pirates

HARGEISA — Somalia’s breakaway region of Somaliland on Tuesday inaugurated a UN-funded prison aimed at holding pirates but also warned it was not yet accepting those detained by foreign powers.

The prison in the region’s capital Hargeisa was refurbished by the United Nations at a cost of about $1.5 million (1.06 million euros) with the aim of making conditions there acceptable to countries wishing to repatriate Somali pirates.

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But the region has backed away from accepting pirates seized by foreign forces, in what is likely to prove the latest setback to attempts by the international community to repatriate Somali pirates arrested on the high seas to east Africa or the Horn of Africa for trial.

“The transfer issue has not yet been accepted,” Ismail Moummir Aar, the Somaliland justice minister, told reporters during a visit to the region by a UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) team headed by its director Yury Fedotov.

Fedotov’s team came for the official opening of the facility, which has the capacity to house about 425 inmates and which has actually been up and running for the past several weeks.

Of the 297 detainees currently in the facility, 88 are pirates from various regions of Somalia. All of them were intercepted by the Somaliland coastguard or by local people.

Aar said that Somaliland would for now accept only the repatriation of any Somaliland nationals to be prosecuted on piracy charges.

“We accept Somaliland (nationals) to be transferred to Somaliland. Each territory should prosecute its own pirates,” he said.

His invitation appears rather theoretical, however, as according to him there are no Somaliland nationals being held in foreign prisons.

Somali inmates take their breakfast in the courtyard at the UN-funded prison in Hargeisa

Kenya, which was the first nation to accept to try pirates brought in by foreign navies patrolling off the Somali coast, recently indicated it was unwilling to take in more.


The Seychelles last year became the second country in the region to accept to prosecute Somali pirates.

The refusal by Somaliland to accept convicted pirates originating from other parts of Somalia and arrested by foreign navies could jeopardise that deal with the Seychelles.

Seychelles Transport Minister Joel Morgan last week said his country’s handling of pirates was clear: “We bring them to justice and then subsequently repatriate them to their respective countries.”

“Seychelles therefore welcomes the setting up of this new prison in Hargeisa for this purpose,” he concluded.

Source: 29 March 2011

Displaying 17 Comments
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  1. yacub says:

    umm.. the whole idea of the prison was to accept suspected pirates from all over…. somaliland is seriously hurting their chances for any international recognition. this is a united nations funded prison with the assistance of western countries; this is not a somaliland funded prison.

  2. boqoljireh says:

    Mr. Y, don't you read what the articles says? The prison was and is for Somaliland only.

    • yacub says:

      The whole idea of this prison was to house Somali pirates from ALL over. That was the pre-requisite of the prison. The United Nations and other officials made that clear in their press conference in Kampala many months ago.Somaliland cannot just say after its completion that they will not accept non-Somalilanders. The whole point of the prison was to house PIRATES.

    • yacub says:

      please refer to the united nations development programme (somalia) website for information regarding the prison in hargeisa. it clearly states that the purpose of the prison is to house pirates of ethnic Somali descent and the Somaliland government had initially agreed to this. Countries that currently hold pirates such as Japan and India have said that they will transfer their prisoners to the prison in Somaliland shortly and Somaliland had agreed to this. The Somaliland government was well aware that the vast majority of prisoners were from Puntland. The United Nations, the West and Seychelles are pissed off. They have been lied to.

      • Kayse says:

        Who cares if they are pissed off. This is Somaliland not Somalia where foreigners run it. Our prison our business. UN might have paid the "funding" but unlike you Somalis of Somalia, we know there is no such thing as free money from UN, it all goes back to Somalia or Somaliland as DEBT. So we will do as we wish.

        We will not take prisoners from India or others, however we will work closely with navies from Britain, maybe USA and Denmark.

        • yacub says:

          You cannot do as you wish if the Somaliland government has already agreed to the provisions of the agreement. You cannot just exhaust your specific duties that have been assigned; especially after they have been agreed upon.

          UN funding is not debt; the United Nations does not give out loans. What are you talking about? They are in the business of the facilitating international law, human rights and international security. Whatever funds that goes into programs and services is given as a "donation".

          This is not a "Somaliland" prison. It is a UN funded prison that runs in Hargeysa. Is the U.N headquarters in New York owned by the U.S? Their rules? Nope. Which is why many non-allies of the U.S are allowed to enter (Fidel Castro, Ahmadinejad, etc).

          If the Somaliland government did not want to accept Somalia pirates, then why agree to it in the beginning?

          And I am a Somalilander. There is nothing wrong with criticising the government of Somaliland. That is what democracy is all about. Understood?

          Again, the United Nations does not give out loans. The prison is NOT A LOAN. And an agreement was made by the Somaliland government and the United Nations about the rules and regulations of the prison. The government of Somaliland cannot simply abandon their agreement.

          Understood? If the Somaliland government would just properly cooperate and not abandon their agreements, just maybe they can get the recognition they desperately want.

          • Kayse says:

            No need to write a whole essay, its very simple, if the UN doesnt comply with U.S. law and interest, they will close down the so called HQ. It is there because it often serves the interest of America, do you ever see UN requesting a resolution on Israel and how it demolishes Palestinian settlements?

            Dont believe UN is rightous organization, it does not represent a higher authority than our government, land and our laws. No one asked them to build, besides we used our own stones, sand, water, local workforce, etc… so dont run away with it thinking UN is some define order.

            We dont have to take any foreign prisoners, simple. You hold too much regard for UN.

          • yacub says:

            And so what if they used "our stones, our sand, our water, our local workforce"? Did they use it for free? Didn't they pay? That is how an economy works. Do you want the United Nations to give back your water, your local workforce, your stones, and your sand? Somaliland didn't pay a cent towards this prison nor did they lose anything. Everything was paid for as usual; it's Africa after all. Everyone is starving and the government officials are too corrupt.

            It would be wise for the Somaliland government to respect contractual agreements they made themselves with other parties if they even think about looking for independence. If the government is reneging on the contract, then what other country or organization will want to work with the Somaliland govt?

            You are clearly missing the point. But whatever. I am not going to explain it to a hard headed fresh off the boat Somali who has no regard for international law or respect the concept of contractual agreements.

          • yacub says:

            You said "We dont have to take any foreign prisoners, simple".

            Answer this one question: Why agree to it in the first place? Please answer that.

  3. Abraham says:

    This is a great diplomatic move and a one which is really just common sense. 1.5 million dollars is nothing compared to the task Somaliland is being urged to undertake. The pirates take at least $300 million in ransom and the Worlds maritime trade looses billions of dollars to this scorch every year. So if the international community wants to stop the piracy in the region they should come up with something more tangible than this token amount which is not even less than one criminal's monthly spoils. Basically, they should offer us a lot more diplomatic and financial support or take their pirates elsewhere. Somaliland is not a dumping ground, period.

  4. Gobaad says:

    I absolutely agree with you, Abraham. We are certainly not a dumping ground for pirates from all over Somalia. I am glad that Somaliland Government backed down from the situation. None of the pirates are Somalilanders and housing will bring nothing but hostility from other Somalis although it is for their best interest to be housed close to their families.

  5. Idil says:

    Who is that smart to make such prison in the out skirts of the capital of their country, the heart & center for all Somalilanders, look before you leap was a proverb said to smart people. How kind of the international community whom fails to help us gain recognition but here they are wanting us to be their Guatemala , help us lord.

  6. Kayse says:

    Somaliland government knows what they are doing, we are not taking Puntland's thugs. No way. However, we will work closely with British navy and perhaps the Dannish in return they will train our coastguards and provide arms, Britain already is working with the arms embargo committee to deliver us modern weapons.

    We only welcome pirates captured by Somaliland coastguard and UK Navy.

  7. Kayse says:

    Let me also point out something that I'm sure many of you have noticed, this prison is far better than the living conditions that some of this pirates use to live in, for example some of them use to sleep in tents or hutts, no bed nothing. Now they have clean rooms, wood work, reading and writing, books, etc… The prison is like a hotel for them seriously.

    Some people are homeless and will commit crimes just to end up in prisons…trust me hehehehehe

  8. dirane says:

    I am sure our government is aware of the risks involved if this prison accommodates pirates caught outside the Somaliland waters, our security is at stake here and that is the last thing we want to gamble with.

    If Silanyo is asking for trouble, he will allow the UN or who ever dreams of this to use this facility as a dumping ground for the Putland pirates, however, I am sure he is a shroud politician who weighs issues before making major decisions.

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