Enhancing Prison Leaders’ Capacity in Somaliland

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Hargeisa, Somaliland 17 February 2021 – UNODC’s Global Maritime Crime Programme (GMCP), in association with the Global Prison Challenges Programme, has brought together 14 prison officers from different areas of Somaliland, including Gabiley, Boroma, and Erigovo, for a five-week leadership training, known as the Developing Managers’ Programme (DMP).

Under the Joint Rule of Law Programme for Somaliland, funded by the European Union and the Government of Sweden, the training aims to equip prison officers with the knowledge and practical skills to elevate into middle manager roles. Now more than ever, prison leaders are confronted with several challenges, especially those stemming from the global COVID-19 pandemic, leaving prisons at high risk and requiring strategic management skills to effectively respond to ongoing and emerging issues. That is partly why UNODC GMCP remains committed to training prospective and current prison leaders, especially in Somaliland.

In doing so, the DMP is divided into two components, including classroom and practical parts, to facilitate auditory and experiential learning opportunities. Having delivered the DMP in the past, UNODC GMCP was grateful to rely on the expertise of two former DMP participants in the delivery of modules on prison security, demonstrating localized and collaborative training.

During the four-week classroom training, the participants learned about evidence-based decision-making, gender-sensitive correctional policies, and prison laws and standards, among other things, enabling them to adopt more holistic leadership styles. As a participant of the training, Mr. Abdikadir Ali Muhmed, explained, “I learned about international standards and the local prison act and I will put that into practice in the prison for which I work. Additionally, I learned a lot about human rights in a prison context, especially how to look after vulnerable prisoners.”

For the five-day practical component of the training, the participants will deliver presentations on selected topics, while having the opportunity to engage in an exercise in a prison setting. Upon completion, UNODC GMCP will convene a closing ceremony, during which certificates will be awarded to the successful candidates.

Commenting on the DMP, Mr. Ibraahim Khadar, Director of Prison Affairs and Human Rights in Somaliland, said “the training is one of the best mechanisms we received in the last five years. Recruits gained solid knowledge, skills, and learned a lot from the UNODC Prison Mentor who conducted the training. In the future, we hope to collaborate on other reformative programs, including those focusing on incarcerated population, particularly women and juveniles in conflict with the law.”

With international experts and national staff based in Hargeisa, UNODC GMCP is prepared to rapidly respond to requests by the Somaliland Custodial Corps for technical assistance and implement internationally funded capacity building projects. “Now and in the future, UNODC GMCP stands ready to further support our valued partners in Somaliland to accelerate the implementation of human rights compliant prisons,” said Ms. Kazuyo Mitsuhashi, UNODC GMCP Project Officer. “Strengthening the capacity of prison leaders, possibly resulting in prison reforms that are grounded in respect for the rule of law, is an important endeavor – one on which we intend to build in forthcoming interventions.”

Following the DMP, UNODC GMCP will deliver a senior management training to Commanders and Deputy Commanders of Somaliland prisons, which will begin in quarter two of 2021. Taken together, the leadership trainings will enhance both junior and senior prison leaders’ capacity to transpose the Nelson Mandela Rules into practice and assist prison leaders to better cope with the impacts of the global pandemic. Such trainings build on previous donations of COVID-19 relief items, including personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies, boosting the capacity of the Hargeisa Central Prison and its staff to prevent the transmission of the virus.

Along with the two former DMP participants, UNODC GMCP wishes to sincerely thank the Custodial Corps Commissioner, as well as the Director General and the Director of Prison Affairs and Human Rights of the Somaliland Ministry of Justice, for delivering expert remarks and presentations during the training.

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