afrol News, 7 February - The government of Seychelles has entered into negotiations with ministers from Somalia and the breakaway republics of Somaliland and Puntland to secure the repatriation of convicted Somali pirates.
A Seychellois delegation being lead by the Indian Ocean island nation's Attorney General, Ronny Govinden, began discussions with Somali Justice Ministers from Puntland, Somaliland, and Somalia's Transitional Federal Government earlier today at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Victoria, "to discuss forming an agreement between the four parties on the repatriation of convicted Somali prisoners," according to the Seychelles government.
The talks, which were organised in collaboration with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), were officially opened by Seychellois Minister for Home Affairs and the Chair of the High-Level Committee on Piracy (HLCP), Joel Morgan.
"We have respected the rule of law at great financial cost... we feel that it is proper and humane that these persons convicted of piracy or of other crimes have the possibility of serving their sentence in their home country," said Minister Morgan. "Rehabilitation of prisoners is also part of the process of justice," he added.
The talks are scheduled to take place over the next few days and "are aimed at establishing a viable Prisoner Transfer Agreement," according to a statement forwarded to afrol News by the Seychellois Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Before the repatriation of convicted Somali prisoners can be done, the Seychelles government however needed to "ensure that such a transfer agreement is in place and that other criteria's are met."
The discussions were said to be due to come to a close on Thursday this week and would also cover "issues of consent, facilities in place, the treatment of prisoners, logistical concerns, and other threats and challenges being faced."
Somali piracy during the last few years has moved southwards to also include Seychellois waters, costing the small nation millions of dollars in lost revenues from fishing and tourism, and in extra transport costs due to insurance for cargo bound for Seychelles.
The Seychellois coastguard has strongly stepped up its activities to secure national waters, acting together with foreign navies that patrol the waters of the western Indian Ocean. It has noted several successes in freeing civilian vessels captured by Somali pirates, including several Seychellois fishing crews.
During these operations, several Somali pirates have been captured. These have been brought to trial in Seychelles and remain in detention in the island nation until a prisoners' transfer agreement has been signed off with Somalia, Puntland and Somaliland.
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