4 April 2014 - This week a 500-bed prison opened in Garowe, the capital of the Puntland State of Somalia, under a UNODC programme aimed at enhancing criminal justice institutions in the region. This facility was built in close cooperation with the local government and several international organizations and donors.
The construction of the Garowe prison is a key component of UNODC's Maritime Crime Programme, carried out throughout the Horn of Africa to combat piracy. The facility is a step towards improving criminal justice institutions and marks the successful completion of one of the biggest construction projects of its kind, undertaken by UNODC in partnership with the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and with the participation of UNOV, UNON and UNDP. The prison has been constructed to provide humane and secure detention conditions in line with international human rights standards. Beyond its construction a strong emphasis has been placed on training and mentoring custodial staff, to ensure the prison is managed in accordance with best practices in the provision of criminal justice.
In a statement released for the occasion, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov acknowledged the significance of this multi-stakeholder achievement, stating: "The opening of the Garowe Prison is an important milestone because it shows that building capacity in law enforcement and criminal justice processes is equally as important as pursuing the pirates at sea."
The new Garowe prison will receive inmates imprisoned locally and, especially, prisoners convicted of piracy who are serving their sentences in neighbouring countries. By transferring them back to Somali territory, the burden of prosecuting and holding them will be reduced on these states and allow the prisoners to serve their sentences in their home state, closer to their families and within their own cultural environment. This will also facilitate education, vocational training and other rehabilitation programmes that are tailored to their local environment and needs.
Under UNODC's Piracy Prisoner Transfer Programme 91 prisoners have already been transferred to the prison, including prisoners previously held at the old prison in Garowe and 18 convicted pirates transferred from the Seychelles. The new facility offers improved infrastructure and sanitation, medical support to inmates and staff, education programmes for the prisoners, and vocational training programmes in areas like construction, sewing, carpentry and brick making, among others. As a high security facility, it exceeds the security conditions of any institution of its type in the region.