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Detainee and detention centre conditions in Mogadishu, Kismayo and Baidoa
Somali News

Detainee and detention centre conditions in Mogadishu, Kismayo and Baidoa

The Somali Women Solidarity Organisation in Kismayo and Isha Human Rights Organisation in Baidoa, is implementing the ‘Restoring Stable Communities in Somalia’ programme.

Part of this work involves supporting Police Advisory Committees (PACs) to conduct regular monitoring of conditions at detention centres. Saferworld, with input from the PACs and its partners, has developed a standardised checklist to guide PACs in their collection of information during monitoring visits to police stations.

After these visits, the PACs provide data from their checklists to project staff to be documented and filed. Over the last three years, the PACs have visited and monitored 39 detention centres across Mogadishu, Kismayo and Baidoa, including prisons, police stations, sub-police stations and Criminal Investigation Department (CID) sites. The data used in this analysis were collected during these bimonthly PAC visits.

The data spans various criteria on police responsibilities in Somalia. These include detention conditions within police stations, registering and treatment of detainees, following up of cases, infrastructure and equipment conditions, and compliance with police regulations. The data collected was predominantly quantitative with some qualitative information, the analysis of which is the focus of this report.

An independent consultant conducted a data analysis of all the PAC visits, highlighting the conditions of the detainees and facilities and generating recommendations for improvement.

Key findings

The PAC data shows a paucity of acceptable detainee conditions, with multiple areas in need of improvement. PACs conducted 1 026 successful visits over the past three years, which are the basis for this data.

Detainee demographics

The PAC data included information on conditions for 32 474 detainees observed throughout the project period. This figure does not represent the total number of detainees in the project locations, but rather the number of detainees observed. The vast majority were adult men, with only 833 women detainees included in the data. The data includes 95 detainees under 18 years of age and 133 people with disabilities.

Infrastructure conditions and gender considerations

Most prisons in the three locations need rehabilitation or reconstruction. Some buildings were built during the colonial era. In Kismayo, the data suggests that all existing detention centres except the Police Headquarters are in poor condition.

The central prison is badly damaged and requires maintenance. In Baidoa, PAC data shows that the central prison is very old, and the cells are small, hot and poorly ventilated. In all locations, there was no separate institution for women prisoners and detainees.

In many cases, due to overcrowding, women were not provided with separate cells or designated spaces, and were confined to makeshift spaces that included resting lounges for soldiers. In 28 per cent of total observations, men and women detainees used shared toilet facilities with no specific latrines for women.

Access to families and information

Most prisoners and detainees had access to family members and knew the reasons for their detention. Separating inmates based on their criminal cases was often a challenge. The PACs support vulnerable detainees with paralegal and medical attention. From December 2018 to December 2019, PACs assisted more than 8 087 detainees in the three regions. Since May 2020, the number of detainees assisted by PACs has been reduced due to police measures to minimise the spread of COVID-19

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