Seychelles, Somaliland row over home jail deal

A dispute over the “premature” release of convicted pirates by Somaliland authorities may reach the UN Security Council, after a protest by the Seychelles.

Last week, the Indian Ocean state raised a storm after Somaliland freed 19 prisoners jailed for piracy in the Seychelles after being transferred to Hargeisa to serve their terms, under humanitarian considerations.

But the move by the Somaliland administration is seen as a violation of a bilateral agreement the two sides signed in February 2012.

The Seychelles first protested to the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), a coalition of countries combating piracy in East African waters that is sanctioned by the UN Security Council.

The Seychelles agreed with Somaliland that the prisoners would complete their jail terms, which range from 10 years to 24 years, in Hargeisa.

“This clearly compromises the agreed arrangements providing for the repatriation of such individuals to their home country to serve their sentence on a humanitarian basis,” a statement from the Group said.