Somaliland takes stand on pirates

2011-03-29 21:31

Hargeisa - Somalia's breakaway region of Somaliland on Tuesday inaugurated a UN-funded prison aimed at holding pirates but also warned it was not yet accepting those detained by foreign powers.

The prison was refurbished by the United Nations at a cost of about $1.5m with the aim of making conditions there acceptable to countries wishing to repatriate Somali pirates.

But the region has backed away from accepting pirates seized by foreign forces, in what is likely to prove the latest setback to attempts by the international community to repatriate Somali pirates arrested on the high seas to east Africa or the Horn of Africa for trial.

The Somaliland justice minister, Ismail Moummir Aar, said: "The transfer issue has not yet been accepted."

He was addressing a UN Office on Drugs and Crime team headed by its director Yury Fedotov.

Fedotov's team came for the official opening of the facility, which has the capacity to house about 425 inmates and which has actually been up and running for the past several weeks.

Of the 297 detainees currently in the facility, 88 are pirates from various regions of Somalia.

All of them were intercepted by the Somaliland coastguard or by locals.