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Somalia: Puntland Establishes Piracy Courts and Prisons

(Apr. 20, 2011) On April 18, 2011, Reuters reported that Somalia's Puntland semi-autonomous regional state will soon put in place special prisons and courts to try pirates in the Indian Ocean region. (Martina Fuchs, Somali Enclave to Set Up Piracy Courts, Prisons, REUTERS (Apr. 18, 2011).) According to Saeed Mohamed Rage, Puntland's Minister of Marine Transport, Ports and Counter-Piracy, construction of prisons will soon commence in Puntland (in the cities of Bosaso and Garowe) as well as in Somaliland. (Id.)

Puntland also recently signed an agreement with the government of Seychelles, on the repatriation and transfer of pirates convicted in Seychelles, which will probably enter into effect upon the completion of the new prisons. (Id.) This finalizes the February 12, 2011, agreement in which the Seychelles government signed a Prisoner Transfer Accord with the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and two memoranda of understanding with representatives of Puntland and Somaliland, in which the representatives declared their intent to establish prisoner transfer agreements with Seychelles after due consultations with their respective governments. (Seychelles Signs Historic Accord on Transfer of Jailed Somali Pirates, NATION (Feb. 12, 2011).) Due to the lack of a viable legal infrastructure in Somalia, many Somali pirates are tried in other jurisdictions in the region, mainly Seychelles and Kenya. (Fuchs, supra).

Puntland is an area in the northeastern part of Somalia and is composed of the Bari, Nugal, Mudug, Sanaag, Sool, Ayn, and Karkaar regions. On May 5, 1998, it became the Puntland regional state, with its own three-branch governmental system. It is not seeking world recognition as an independent nation and hopes to be part of a future Federal States of Somalia. (Hanibal Goitom, Somalia: Puntland State Approves New Constitution, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (July 6, 2009).)