Sweden to help rehabilitate Al-Shabaab fighters held in Somali prisons

1 Jun 2017

Sweden to help rehabilitate Al-Shabaab fighters held in Somali prisons

Baidoa - A high level delegation led by the Swedish Ambassador to Somalia, Mikael Lindvall, today visited Baidoa central prison to observe the implementation of the Al-Shabaab prisoners’ rehabilitation project.

Ambassador Mikael Lindvall was accompanied by officials from the Swedish Prison and Probation Service and the Director of the UNSOM Rule of Law and Security Institutions Group, Mr. Staffan Tillander.

The delegation visited the prison, observed rehabilitation project activities and met with the prison management and project implementation team. The team said that they had overcome initial wariness on the part of the Al-Shabaab prisoners through dialogue and confidence-building and noted that the prisoners are now fully engaged with the project.

“The idea is to keep the project going and see if we can expand it and replicate it in other places [in Somalia],” Mr. Lindvall explained.

The delegation also met with South West State President Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan, who expressed appreciation for Sweden’s support to the project and requested assistance in rebuilding the justice system and improving conditions of confinement through the construction of a new prison.

The President said it was unacceptable that the local population had to seek justice from Al-Shabaab courts in the absence of a fully functioning judiciary.

“It is very important that the whole rule of law chain is built up and that there is balance. We need police, there needs to be justice, there needs to be corrections that treat people in a decent way,” Mr. Tillander said.

In addition to the rehabilitation project, UNSOM has been supporting the prison through the construction of a security barrier; trainings for the custodial corps on basic prison management, human rights and medical care; and in partnership with UNIDO, setting up a vocational training center for prisoners.

Bay Region prison commander Adan Ali Ahmed thanked UNSOM, Sweden and other partners for their efforts to improve security, provide capacity building and enhance prisoners’ welfare.  “This wasn’t a prison before,” he said.

The visit by the Swedish delegation came after the adoption of a security pact at the London Somalia Conference, early last month that calls for a political agreement on a justice and corrections model for Somalia.