Somali prison officers awareness training kicks off in Mogadishu

26 Mar 2014

Somali prison officers awareness training kicks off in Mogadishu

Mogadishu – An entry level training course for Somali custodial staff was launched today in Mogadishu following a joint initiative between the Federal Government of Somalia, United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The first was conducted in January 2014.

Some 25 Somali custodial staff of all levels began a three-day prison awareness programme with an aim to improve their skills and conduct their roles more effectively in line with international standards. New systems and practices are also introduced, including dynamic security and fire prevention measures. The training falls under a bigger plan in support of the Somali prison system which has lacked adequate facilities since the collapse of the Central Government.

Welcoming the training program at the opening ceremony, Colonel Hussein, representative of the Custodial corps Commissioner, noted that “the Mogadishu Central Prison was constructed in the 1930’s and as an aging institution is in need of renovation. The collapse of the Central Government of Somalia meant that the prison system suffered due to lack of infrastructure and funding”. He further added that custodial staff who have worked in the prison for over a decade would benefit significantly from refresher courses and new skills.

Asha Mohamed, a female prison officer participating at the training course has worked for over 10 years at the Mogadishu central prison. “The female section of the prison can see up to 80 female inmates, we need safeguarding measures for female prisoners as a vulnerable group in order to improve the current conditions and comply with international women’s rights standards” she noted.

Representative of UNSOM, Corrections Officer, Francis Benon emphasised the importance of custodial standard operating procedures and encouraged the officers to apply what they learn in their daily work. “We should keep in mind that international Human Rights and the safety and security of prisoners are upheld at all times” he said.

UNODC representative, Alan Cole, said, “this is the second training course for Somali Custodial Corps and we hope this course will enhance the skills already gained, further strengthening the capacity of the Custodial service”. He added that the entry level training will give the participants sufficient knowledge and skills that enable them to understand the importance of safety and security both for the public outside the prison and the prisoners inside the prison.