afrol News, 18 February - Somaliland ministers and a visiting donor from the Norwegian government inaugurated a new modern prison in Hargeisa, which will make it possible to convict Somali pirates caught by international forces.
A new central prison for persons convicted to long sentences has been made use of in Somaliland's capital Hargeisa. The prison, partially financed by Norway, was today visited by Somaliland Home Affairs Minister, Maxamed Cabdi Gabboose, accompanied by Norway's Deputy Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide.
The Hargeisa prison is to be formally inaugurated later this month, but already houses over 70 Somali pirates that had been arrested by international marine forces in the Bay of Aden and the Indian Ocean.
Many pirates so far have had to be released as there were no courts ready to sentence them or prisons ready to accommodate them. The Hargeisa "pirates' prison" comes as an international response to this vacuum, with Somalilanders happy to extend their international relations by hosting the new facilities.
According to Norwegian Deputy-Minister Eide, the new facilities - starring as the most modern building in run-down Hargeisa - "appeared effective and moderns, both regarding prisoners' conditions and security." High standards had been a condition to extradite captured pirates by many of the nations participating in the anti-piracy operations.
Consequently, Mr Eide also announced further Norwegian cooperation and funding for Somaliland's justice sector, "including police, courts and correctional services, and also for the development of more modern legal codes," according to a statement by the Oslo Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"When we know that nine out of ten pirates are released after being caught, it is obvious that the only answer to this problem cannot be sending more marine troops," said Mr Eide, who back in Norway faces critics because his maritime nation is not participating in the naval anti-piracy operations.
Mr Eide during his stay in Hargeisa also participated in an inauguration ceremony of a Norway-funded school building, officially handed over to Somaliland Education Minister Samsam Abdi Adan.
The Deputy-Minister's visit to Hargeisa represented the first-ever Norwegian official visit to the non-recognised state of Somaliland. Mr Eide met with Somaliland President Ahmed Mahamoud Silanyo and a large number of Ministers and dignitaries.
The visiting Norwegian was full of praise after having seen developments in Somaliland first-handed. "The contrast between Somaliland and most of the rest of Somalia is striking," he stated. "Somaliland has managed to establish a well-functioning democracy, where presidents not only are elected, but also leave their post if not re-elected, which is not a matter of course in Africa."
While promising increased economic and political cooperation between Norway and Somaliland, the Oslo Ministry today emphasised that "this should not be interpreted in a way that Norway wants to contribute to those forces that want to separate Somaliland from the rest of Somalia."
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