- I recently met with the National Prosecutor of Somaliland, Mr. Hassan Ahmed Adam, who been on a working visit to London. After exchange of niceties, I asked him about the reasons behind the recent decision of the government of Somaliland to allow the transfer to its prisons of pirates arrested on the high seas; sentenced in foreign courts; and serving jail term in foreign countries.
I also asked the Prosecutor about the benefits that will accrue to Somaliland from such importations into Somaliland dangerous criminals like pirates.
The Prosecutor said that “the government of Somaliland evaluated the harsh challenges faced by Somali pirates in foreign prisons. The government received numerous requests from incarcerated pirates and their families to transfer those pirates to prisons in Somaliland. Because of our Islamic religion and morals, we allowed these suffering Somali pirates, on humanitarian grounds, to be transferred to our prisons, where they will find staff with whom they speak the same language and share the same religion and culture, and where their families can visit them anytime.
Above all, we ascertained that every one of the pirates was voluntarily willing to serve the rest of his jail term in prisons in Somaliland, and all were happy with that”.
The National Prosecutor emphasized that it was a humanitarian decision to bring the pirate prisoners and their families closer together in terms of distance and location.
The government of Somaliland and its people surely threw a new lifeline to pirate prisoners and their families. Today, families of the pirates can easily visit the pirates in prisons in Somaliland anytime they wish. The staffs in Somaliland prisons are trained in how to handle prisoners, and in the protection of the human rights of prisoners.
While struggling to deal with the socio-economic development of Somalilandlanders, the government of Somaliland is nonetheless obliged to assist the Somali people who are suffering from droughts, civil war and bad governance. We need to assist these people in any way possible as Somaliland did in the recent past and donated around six hundred thousand dollars to the victims of the famine in Mogadishu and Somalis in refugee camps in Kenya.
It is to be noted that at the time that Somaliland was making these donations, its people were suffering from serious drought and was appealing for international assistance to its people. Our Islamic religion demands this.
Piracy is a very serious crime in International law, and pirates are considered as enemies of human race (hostes humani generis). In the past, the punishment of the crime of piracy included even death by hanging. Piracy endangers international trade and the movement of goods and people across the seas. Therefore, it is considered as obligatory for all states to fight against and to suppress it.
The government of Somaliland, which finds itself at the forefront in the fight against piracy, maintains a well-equipped and highly trained coast guard, which managed in the past to reduce to the minimal the incidence of the crime of piracy off Somaliland coast and adjacent waters.
The government of Somaliland is committed to the fights against piracy. In pursuit of this goal, the government passed Law no. 52/2012 on the Suppression of the Crime of Piracy and Law no. 53/2012 on the Exchange/Extradition of Prisoners (including pirates). The passing of these laws by the parliament makes Somaliland a partner with the international community in the fight against and the suppression of the crime of piracy.
In addition, the passing of these laws will allow the government to enter into bilateral and multilateral agreements with like-minded states in the fight against piracy.
Recently one such an agreement was signed by president of Somaliland, Ahmed Mohamoud Siiraanyo, with his counterpart, the president of Seychelles Mr James Michel, which led to the voluntary transfer of over a dozen Somali pirates in Seychelles prisons to Somaliland.
Finally the government of Somaliland should be praised for this courageous act. This is indicative of the maturity of the institutional democratic governance of Somaliland at the present stage. It is high time that the international community recognized the crucial role that Somaliland can play in contributing to the peace and stability in the Horn of Africa region, and accords a well-deserved international recognition to Somaliland, as a separate and independent state among the nations in the world.
By Kaysar Cabdilaahi Maxamed