Maritime Crime Programme - Horn of Africa Division

The waters off the Horn of Africa offer great opportunity for sustainable, Somali-driven employment and development. However, after decades of conflict and instability, these waters have become a haven for piracy and armed robbery at sea, illegal fishing, human trafficking and the smuggling of charcoal, illicit substances, weapons and migrants. While coordinated international efforts have suppressed piracy in recent years, the root causes of piracy and other forms of criminal activity perpetrated at sea still plague this region.

The MCP Horn of Africa division aims to strengthen maritime and criminal justice capacity in the Horn of Africa, working together with Somali law enforcement agencies in South Central Somalia, Galmudug, Somaliland and Puntland. This forms part of an ambitious goal to develop domestic law enforcement capacity to the level where the Somali people can protect, police, manage and sustainably exploit the natural resources and economic opportunities presented by their maritime domain.

Regional Maritime Coordination Mechanism

Until June 2013, political efforts to establish a secure maritime domain for Somalia were coordinated by the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS). UNPOS held the UN Security Council mandated authority to facilitate the Somali-led "Kampala Process", bringing together officials from South Central Somalia, Galmudug, Puntland and Somaliland to agree on a strategy for the suppression of maritime crime. The Kampala Process has been the only formal environment in which officials across all Somali regions have come together to work on a cross-cutting issue, with great success. The Secretariat function for the Kampala Process was taken over by UNODC in 2014, when it also gained its new name; the Regional Maritime Coordination Mechanism (RMCM).

Assistance to Somali Law Enforcement

UNODC launched a new programme to support maritime law enforcement authorities in the Horn of Africa in 2013, after several years of working successfully with Somali authorities and conducting capacity building activities under the Piracy Prisoner Transfer Programme.

The MCP's activities in the Horn of Africa focus on developing Somali capacities to assert authority over their coastline and maritime zones by delivering packages of support specifically tailored to meet the needs of South Central Somalia, Galmudug, Puntland and Somaliland respectively. All packages are composed of a mixture of material support, technical assistance and infrastructural support. An emphasis has been placed on training at a foundational level, for instance working with marine police on marine vessel maintenance and engine repair.

The activities to support maritime law enforcement capabilities in Somalia are derived from Goal 2 of the Somali Maritime Security and Resource Strategy (SMRSS), which was developed under the Kampala Process and adopted by authorities from South Central Somalia, Galmudug, Puntland and Somaliland in June 2013. The process been repeatedly endorsed by the Somali Federal Government as the foundation for all future work within the maritime domain in Somalia.

Somalia Prison Development Programme (South)

Mogadishu has for many years been the scene of violent conflict. However, with a new democratically elected government in Mogadishu, the international community is satisfied that the level of security is sufficiently stable to allow for more long term capacity-building work to be carried out in the city.

HOA photo 1While the challenges of delivering assistance in Mogadishu are enormous, there is also great opportunity for growth and advancement. One of the most neglected areas after many years of conflict is the situation of prisoners and detainees. In the past, deaths were reported in Mogadishu Central Prison due to cholera and TB, as a consequence of overcrowding and cross contamination of water and human waste.

With substantial infrastructure support and technical assistance, together with training and mentoring to improve custodial practices, UNODC hopes to raise conditions in Mogadishu Central Prison to meet the minimum requirements for treatment of prisoners identified in international human rights law as well as in the laws of Somalia. Humane, safe and secure detention facilities are an important building block in a functioning criminal justice system that promotes and upholds the rule of law.

Working in the area of prison reform, the UNODC MCP brings to bear significant experience and lessons learned from its prison assistance to Puntland and Somaliland as part of the Piracy Prisoner Transfer Programme.

Mogadishu Major Crimes Complex

The MCP Horn of Africa division is also addressing the urgent need to establish a secure facility in Mogadishu for conducting trials for high risk suspects such as pirates, alleged terrorists and disengaged combatants. The need for such a facility has been identified as one of the most urgent issues in the justice sector.

Somalia's various national justice institutions have been suffering from years of conflict, mismanagement, corruption, and very poor infrastructure. In particular, Somalia's civilian courts - and its staff - lack the physical protection to manage high risk cases, which are dealt with by the military system despite the legal concerns over their jurisdiction to try civilians.

 As a starting point towards addressing this issue, the MCP Horn of Africa division has commenced work on the Mogadishu Major Crimes Complex (MMCC). Once completed, this facility will include three court rooms, a detention facility, administrative offices, secure accommodation for judges and prosecutors during trials and training facilities for all court staff.  It will be designed and constructed with security in mind.

The MMCC will provide a crucial facility for high level suspects to be prosecuted in secure conditions, in accordance with international standards. The MMCC will complement UNODC's refurbishment of Mogadishu Central Prison, together providing a broader foundation for effective detention, trial and incarceration of serious offenders in South Central Somalia. 

As well as acting as a secure site, the complex will serve as a training facility where judges, prosecutors, defence lawyers and court administrative staff will receive mentoring and training to develop their skills. It is envisioned that prison staff will receive their training in the refurbished Mogadishu Central Prison and then be able to apply it in the new detention facility proposed here. As in all of its training and capacity building activities, promotion of human rights and adherence to international standards will form a core part of UNODC's work.