Somalian pirates are hijackers of the sea, men who attack international shipping to obtain the goods for selling. In order to carry out the operation the Pirates uses Skiffs, small boats that can reach the ships in good time. Firearms are used to intimidate those on board the ship, causing them to slow down so that the pirates can board. They use small ladders that hook onto the ship to climb aboard and from here aim to gain access to the ships bridge, where they can gain control of the vessel. Pirates tend to be made up of different groups…

–          Local fisherman: the brains of the operation due to their knowledge of the sea

–          Ex-militiamen: the muscle of the operation

–          Technical experts: those who operate the equipment

The number of pirate attacks taken place off the coast of East Africa has dropped over the years, and those involved have been caught. Countries within the region were not prepared to take on prisoners captured from the sea and quite frankly some didn’t want the headache of doing so. So what exactly could be done with these men? The answer was Hargeisa Prison.

Hargeisa is a cream coloured prison that was built in 2010 to house convicted Somalian pirates. Located in Somaliland the prison was given a £950,000 refurbishment, funded by the UN to house the prisoners that no other country wanted.

The prison is capable of holding up to 313 prisoners and contains a number of criminals including convicted pirates. Due to many countries unwilling to prosecute pirates the prison will even take on those captured beyond territorial waters to be held there. Despite this law the prison has been knows to still turn down some requests.

Those convicted of piracy have sentences ranging from between ten and twenty four years, even when tried for the exact same crime. It seems strange that such discrepancies are present and it isn’t quite understood why they are. It would also appear as though those tried are often done so without a lawyer and in a court room where their language is not spoken. On top of this none of the men have been had a chance to appeal against their convictions. It would seem that prison commander, Omer Said Ali has also had concerns about this. He said “I don’t know the particular points of the case or whether they are telling the truth, but they do have a right to appeal and it’s unfair that they have not had the chance to do so” source –

Hargeisa not only imprisons pirates but works towards rehabilitating them too. With various courses available to enrol on the prisoners are able to learn life skills that will help them to succeed in life upon their release. As well as this the prisoners are treat fairly by staff and treated as every human being should be. There are over 200 staff at the prison, all of which have international training in prison etiquette. Prisoners have access to leisure time, phones, football programs and medical facilities on top of their rehabilitation programs.