|Coordinates||09°54′43″N 44°42′42″E / 9.91194°N 44.71167°E|
|Capacity||Around 300 (2010 est.)|
|Opened||Unknown, between 1884 and 1 November 1949|
Mandera Prison, also sometimes spelled as Mandhera or Mandheera Prison, is an isolated, high-security central prison located in the town of Mandera in the Maroodi Jeex Region of the self-proclaimed nation of Somaliland, about 95 km (59 mi) northeast of the capital Hargeisa. The prison has been in operation since Somaliland was still a British protectorate, and to this day functions as a major prison within the region.
There is a generally poor reception of the prison from those who have been inside in recent years, specifically guards mistreating inmates in some instances, and the deteriorating state of the building itself after years of continuous use. Furthermore, the prison in recent decades has grown to hold a disproportionate number of juvenile prisoners for minor crimes. Both domestic and foreign observers have condemned the prison for detaining journalists and non-ruling party politicians en masse, and for allowing executions.
The exact date, when Mandera Prison was built or became operational, is unknown. Its earliest records show that it was constructed by the British Empire, as the main central prison for British Somaliland, sometime during the occupation of the region beginning in 1884. It was the only prison in the protectorate equipped to hold "all long-term prisoners" before the formation of the Somaliland Prison Service (modern day Somaliland Custodial Corps) on 1 November 1949. The detailed 1953 Prison Rules which reformatted the prison systems in the protectorate kept Mandera Prison as the main central prison. Mandera would continue to remain an important central prison throughout the rule of the following Somali Republic until 1969, and the Somali Democratic Republic until 1991, which both united Somaliland with Somalia. The larger prisons of Somalia at this time outclassed Mandera Prison, making it no longer the largest or highest security prison during the unions.
Somali National Movement attacks
When the prison came under the control of the following Marxist-Leninist Somali Democratic Republic, it began to hold increasing numbers of political prisoners and those who opposed the government, including those seeking the re-independence of Somaliland. Two successful attacks, overseen by the anti-communist Somali National Movement (SNM), were conducted in January 1983 and May 1988. In both instances all prisoners, numbering in the hundreds and including dozens of political prisoners, were released.
The first attack, which took place on 2 January 1983, was also the SNM's first military operation against the Somali Democratic government. With assistance from Isaaq military officers in the government, a commando SNM unit's deep infiltration into the nation from a makeshift base in Ethiopia caught the Somali National Army off guard, and saw the prison temporarily fall under the SNM's control. The SNM released all 744 of the prisoners detained at Mandera Prison, where they were told the following by Colonel Mohamed Hashi Lihle:
O prisoners, you are from everywhere. Now we will release you. You have three options to choose from: (1) whoever wants to join the SNM, as we are fighting the regime, you can come and join the Jihad; (2) whoever wants to go and join his family, we will help you get back home; (3) whoever wants to join the regime, you should know we pushed them back to Abdaal when we came; so go to them and we will not do anything to you until you reach them. But be careful: we might attack you later and then our bullets will hurt you. So choose one of these options.
The speech not only motivated many of the Somalis in the prison to join the SNM, but became a major symbol of propaganda in the media across the Somali Democratic Republic, bringing attention to the otherwise politically isolated movement within the nation.
The second attack, which took place at the dawn of 29 May 1988, was part of the SNM's successful 1988 Hargeisa-Burao offensive. The attack on the prison, which was not originally planned to take place, became necessary after reasonable fear arose that Somali forces would kill the prisoners detained there in retaliation for the SNM's recent successful capture of Adadley. After marching from Adadley through the night of 28 May, SNM forces arrived at dawn at the prison, where they were met with fierce resistance from the defending Somali forces, killing 10 SNM fighters and wounding more. A M40 recoilless rifle was eventually able to penetrate a hole at a weak point of the prison, where the SNM could enter. After the SNM's entrance, the prison's commander, who refused to surrender, was shot on sight, and all 664 inmates of the prison were freed. Among the freed were 34 Ethiopians, Southern Somalis, and former mayor of Hargeisa Barre Langadhe. A vehicle was provided to the former Ethiopian prisoners to transport them back to Jijiga, and the remaining prisoners who wanted to join the SNM were armed. Shortly afterwards, the SNM regrouped and returned to Adadley.
The prison's location behind a thick white perimeter wall deep in the desert of Maroodi Jeex makes it very isolated, with the town the prison is located in, Mandera, being inhabited primarily by the prison guards and their family. Many of the basic components of the facility too such as the number of cells or the prison's maximum capacity nowadays are not known, or have not been explicitly documented. Reports by the Colonial Office suggest the prison had a capacity of around 400 nearing the end of British rule in 1959, but was regarded as being able to hold around 750 inmates in 1983, and just around 300 in 2010. With respect to the state of the prison itself, an August 2007 report by Amnesty International regarded the prison as having poor living conditions. This was later supported by a February 2011 assessment of the prison by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, where the interior of the compound was deemed in need of refurbishment after years of consistent operation. Some former prisoners have also recalled poor bug-treatment at the compound, leading to scarring from repeated insect bites in some instances. Insect bites in the past have not been treated properly by the prison's medical department. Along with reports of abuse against detainees at the nearby police station, the prison complex as a whole has gained an overall poor reputation regarding its quality and treatment of inmates.
Police station and academy
Mandera Prison is located alongside the first police academy in Somaliland. Positioned separately across from the prison itself, construction of the academy and station began in 1968, and was finished in the late 1960s or early 1970s. The finished buildings were designed to house, feed, and provide basic training for new prison guards and police officers who would gain experience by working at the prison. In modern times; the buildings have on multiple occasions been used to hold detainees awaiting trial, who if found guilty, can quickly be sent to the prison proper. Reports of abuse have surfaced from some detainees who have spent extended periods of time being held at the station.
Prison education programs
During British colonial rule in 1951, Mandera Prison began hosting a prison education program which focused on teaching practical skills; including basketry, blacksmithing, building, carpentry, gardening, tailoring, and poultry farming. Juvenile inmates in addition were also given literary lessons, all of which was supervised and administered by two teachers assigned to the prison. This education was offered to willing inmates for a dual purpose: of giving them a paying profession to prevent poverty and recidivism, and of transferring any profits from the farms and shops to British government departments. In 1955 however, the prison education program was terminated "on the grounds that the statistical figures did not reveal any real need for a separate [education] institution." Despite this, an education program still existed at the prison in some capacity afterwards, as at least juvenile inmates were given "two hours of schooling daily" and were "required to work in the fields."
Some form of a prison education system still exists today, with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) sponsoring program since at least 2014. Whether some of the programs from British rule are still in operation is unknown; because only the teaching of carpentry, welding, and tailoring skills were discussed by the ICRC in a 2016 report. Between Mandera Prison and Puntland's Bosaso Prison, the program regularly serves 180 inmates.
Mass juvenile detention
The prison in recent history has gained a reputation for holding inmates, especially juveniles, for long sentences that often do not match the severity of the crimes committed. This has led to a growing reliance on paralegals to secure the legal rights of inmates in the prison to an acceleration of their passage through the lengthy criminal justice system. This was not always the case though, as findings from a survey taken between 1948 and 1950 showed the juvenile population in Mandera Prison, and Somaliland's prisons as a whole, decreasing. The reverse has taken place recently, with multiple instances of one- to two-year prison sentences being documented for juveniles convicted of the theft of mobile phones. While the prison's inmate population still consists primarily of murders and to a lesser extent pirates, the prison still holds a disproporinatly large amount underaged schoolchildren as inmates. This was confirmed by the Waddani opposition party leader Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi on a visit conducted on 24 November 2022, in which he described the situation as a "gross violation of the detainees' human and civil rights".
Journalist and politician detention
The prison throughout its history has been used to hold journalists and politicians en masse whose reason for arrest is often only for reporting on unflattering crimes and protests in the nation, or for promoting the opposing parties' beliefs, calling into question the freedom of speech in Somaliland. During the Somaliland War of Independence; many journalists and politicians opposing the government at the time were sent to prisons across the nation, including Mandera Prison, where conditions were described as being very poor, with regular torture reportedly taking place for some inmates. The SNM in response issued requests to foreign governments, particularly France, and human rights groups to intervene to improve the situation of those detained, but it is unclear if any significant actions were made.
In modern times, mainly those in support of the opposing Waddani party or more broadly against the current government have been detained in the prison often without due process, and held for an indefinite amount of time. Instances of this occurring in the past year were seen on 9 June 2022, 15 August 2022, and 9 November 2022. Journalist detentions typically receive some form of condemnation and call for immediate release by at least one of the various journalists' rights groups that are active in the region. Such groups have had some success in the past.
On multiple occasions; the prison has been recorded as, and condemned for, executing some of its prisoners as recently as in 2022. On both 15 January 2020 and 26 November 2020, six prisoners convicted of murders were sentenced to death and executed by firing squad on the outskirts of the prison. On both occasions, the European Union released statements against the executions, restating their opposition to the irreversible form of capital punishment. Another execution by firing squad occurred on 16 February 2022 when four men convicted of the killing of soldiers were executed. These actions were again rebuked, this time by the United Kingdom, whose representative in Hargeisa responded by saying that execution "has no deterrent effect on crime".
Below is a list of notable inmates who have served time in Mandera Prison. The information on the table is organized in the order of the name of the detainee, the reason for their notability, the crime committed, the original sentencing for the crime, the year detained, and the year released if available.
|Name||Reason for notability||Crime charged||Original sentencing||Date detained||Date released||Ref(s).|
|Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed||Future 6th President of Somalia and 1st President of Puntland||Prisoner of conscience to Barre's government||N/A||November 1969||October 1975|||
|Mohamed Farrah Aidid||Prominent Somali politician and general||Prisoner of conscience to Barre's government||N/A||November 1969||October 1975|||
|Ali Hassan Adan "Ali Banfas"||Prominent poet and teacher||Prisoner of conscience to Barre's government||N/A||1980||1988|||
|Barre Langadhe||Former Mayor of Hargeisa||Prisoner of conscience to Barre's government||N/A||N/A||29 May 1988|||
|Mohamed Abdi "Gabose"||Qaran party leader, former government minister, Somaliland's only neurologist||Seditious assembly||3 years, 9 months||19 August 2007||N/A|||
|Mohamed Hashi Elmi||Qaran party leader, former Mayor of Hargeisa, civil engineer||Seditious assembly||3 years, 9 months||19 August 2007||N/A|||
|Jamal Aideed Ibrahim||Qaran party leader, Telecommunicator businessman||Seditious assembly||3 years, 9 months||19 August 2007||N/A|||
|Osman Aw Mohamud "Buurmadow"||Traditional leader, localized peace mediator||Treason (Dropped) and Defamation imposed on a Hargeisa court||1 year||15 March 2012||17 July 2012|||
|Abshir Mohamed Duale||Sultan of Awdal||Mining dispute, unclear||N/A||15 December 2019||12 January 2020|||
|Mohamed Mohamud Yusuf||Waddani party chairman in the Sheikh District||Unclear||N/A||9 November 2022||N/A|||
- ^ a b c d e Liban, Mona (25 April 2021). "Young love puts girl behind bars: Somaliland's juvenile justice system | The harm done: a teen's time behind bars". Junction Journalism. Deakin University. Archived from the original on 26 January 2023. Retrieved 25 January 2023.
- ^ "Two Somaliland journalists arrested while covering protests". cpj.org. Committee to Protect Journalists. 17 August 2022. Archived from the original on 26 January 2023. Retrieved 23 January 2023.
- ^ a b Mahon, Narayan; McConnell, Tristan (12 June 2009). Interview with a Pirate (Report). Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Archived from the original on 26 January 2023. Retrieved 25 January 2023.
Mandheera prison, a British-built colonial-era jail
- ^ a b c d e Florio, Jason (5 January 2010). "The Pirate Port". Virginia Quarterly Review. University of Virginia. 86 (1): 124. JSTOR 26446342. Retrieved 5 May 2023.
- ^ a b c "Somaliland Prisons Law". somalilandlaw.com. June 2018. Archived from the original on 10 July 2020. Retrieved 25 January 2023.
- ^ a b c d e Somaliland Protectorate: 1958 and 1959. British Somaliland: Colonial Office. 1959. pp. 39–40. Archived from the original on 6 March 2023. Retrieved 27 January 2023.
- ^ "Foreign Penal Officials Visiting Illinois-Missouri". Edwardsville Intelligencer. Edwardsville, Illinois. 8 February 1963. p. 8. Retrieved 24 January 2023.
The Somali Republic visitors are Ahmed Jama Elmi, commandant, Central Prison, Mandera
- ^ a b Kaplan, Irving; Choumenkovitch, Milena; Marvin, Barbara; McLaughlin, James; Nelson, Harold D.; Rowland, Ernestine E. (15 June 1969). Area Handbook for Somalia. Washington, D.C.: American University. p. 387. Archived from the original on 6 March 2023. Retrieved 27 January 2023.
- ^ a b Human rights in Somaliland: Awareness and action (PDF) (Report). Amnesty International. 19 October 1998. p. 46. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 January 2023. Retrieved 25 January 2023.
"Ali Hassan Adan ('Ali Banfas') is a member of the Board of Directors of the Horn Watch. Ali worked previously as a teacher, but under the Siad Barre regime between 1980 and 1988 was held as a prisoner of conscience at Mandera Central Prison. He is a well-known poet".
- ^ a b c d e f Prunier, Gérard (2021). The Country That Does Not Exist: A History of Somaliland. London: C. Hurst & Co. pp. 57–58. ISBN 9781787382039. OCLC 1242464786. OL 33740503M. Archived from the original on 6 March 2023. Retrieved 11 February 2023.
- ^ a b "Somalia: 1. Information regarding the date of the Mandera prison take over by the Somali National Movement. 2. List of the names of the sixty persons transferred from Hargeisa to Mandera prison". refworld.org. Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. 1 August 1989. Archived from the original on 6 March 2023. Retrieved 25 January 2023.
- ^ "Somalia: 1. Information regarding possible SNM attack and release of occupants from Mandera prison since May 1988. 2. Information regarding the possibility of SNM attacks on government held positions in and around Mandera, even after the SNM withdrew". refworld.org. Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. 1 March 1990. Archived from the original on 6 March 2023. Retrieved 25 January 2023.
- ^ Woldemariam, Michael (31 January 2018). Insurgent Fragmentation in the Horn of Africa: Rebellion and Its Discontents. Boston University: Cambridge University Press. p. 222. ISBN 9781108423250. Retrieved 4 May 2023.
- ^ a b c d e f g Prunier, Gérard (2021). The Country That Does Not Exist: A History of Somaliland. London: C. Hurst & Co. pp. 97–98. ISBN 9781787382039. OCLC 1242464786. OL 33740503M. Archived from the original on 6 March 2023. Retrieved 11 February 2023.
- ^ a b Somaliland Protectorate: 1956 and 1957. British Somaliland: Colonial Office. 1957. pp. 34–35. Archived from the original on 6 March 2023. Retrieved 27 January 2023.
- ^ a b c d Somaliland: Opposition party leaders jailed after unfair trial, defence lawyers fined and banned from practising (PDF) (Report). Amnesty International. 22 August 2007. p. 1. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 January 2023. Retrieved 25 January 2023.
- ^ "Support to the Trial and Related Treatment of Piracy Suspects" (PDF). United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (5): 9. February 2011. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 January 2023. Retrieved 25 January 2023.
Assessment of the prisons in Mandera […] with a view to detailed refurbishment work in the future
- ^ a b c d e f Mohamoud, Yasmin Omar H. (28 June 2022). "Somaliland: HRC unequivocally calls for the release of the journalists, opposition leaders". horndiplomat.com. Human Rights Center. Archived from the original on 26 January 2023. Retrieved 25 January 2023.
- ^ a b Kaplan, Irving; Choumenkovitch, Milena; Marvin, Barbara; McLaughlin, James; Nelson, Harold D.; Rowland, Ernestine E. (15 June 1969). Area Handbook for Somalia. Washington, D.C.: American University. p. 385. Archived from the original on 6 March 2023. Retrieved 9 February 2023.
- ^ a b c d e f Mohamed, Jama (1999). "Epidemics and Public Health in Late Colonial Somaliland". Northeast African Studies. Wake Forest University. 6 (1–2): 69–70. doi:10.1353/nas.2002.0003. JSTOR 41931228. PMID 22039637. Retrieved 5 May 2023.
- ^ a b c d Somaliland: A prison program gives Abdi a second chance (PDF) (Report). International Committee of the Red Cross. 2016. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 January 2023. Retrieved 26 January 2023.
- ^ a b "UK is providing legal aid to help vulnerable citizens within the Somaliland Criminal Justice System". somalilandstandard.com. 11 August 2020. Archived from the original on 26 January 2023. Retrieved 23 January 2023.
- ^ Vitturini, Elia (2017). The Gaboye of Somaliland: Legacies of Marginality, Trajectories of Emancipation (PDF) (Report). University of Milano-Bicocca. p. 105. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 January 2023. Retrieved 25 January 2023.
- ^ "Series Three of A Collective Failure: Sentencing Children to Significant Prison Time for Minor Offences" (PDF). Horizon Institute (3): 6. November 2020. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 January 2023. Retrieved 25 January 2023.
- ^ "Waddani party top officials visited detained demonstrators in Mandheera Prison". somaliland.com. 24 November 2022. Archived from the original on 26 January 2023. Retrieved 26 January 2023.
- ^ "Somaliland Opposition Leaders Visit 62 Detainees at Mandhera Prison". ftlsomalia.com. 3 December 2022. Archived from the original on 26 January 2023. Retrieved 26 January 2023.
- ^ House Committee on Foreign Affairs and United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (August 2008). Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2007 (Report). Vol. 1. Washington, D.C.: United States Congress. p. 504. Archived from the original on 6 March 2023. Retrieved 9 February 2023.
Numerous journalists were arrested and detained during the year. […] In March, at Mandera Prison, trials took place
- ^ "Wadani Leaders visit arrested officials in Jail". somalidispatch.com. 25 June 2022. Archived from the original on 26 January 2023. Retrieved 26 January 2023.
- ^ a b Members of the 101st United States Congress (20 June 1989). Human Rights and Multilateral Aid to China and Somalia. Vol. 4. Washington, D.C.: United States House of Representatives. pp. 76–77. Archived from the original on 6 March 2023. Retrieved 9 February 2023.
- ^ a b c d Dhaysane, Mohamed (25 August 2022). "Attacks Increase Against Somaliland Media". voanews.com. Voice of America. Archived from the original on 26 January 2023. Retrieved 26 January 2023.
"police initially held the [journalists] at the criminal investigation department before transferring them to the Mandera prison on August 15".
- ^ a b "Summary of World Broadcasts: Non-Arab Africa". BBC Monitoring. University of California (8481–8504): 10. 1987. Retrieved 4 May 2023.
- ^ a b "Somaliland: opposition leader and Journalist arrested". somalidispatch.com. 10 November 2022. Archived from the original on 26 January 2023. Retrieved 26 January 2023.
- ^ a b "Somaliland: King Buurmadow freed from Mandera Maximum Prison". somalilandsun.com. 18 July 2012. Archived from the original on 26 January 2023. Retrieved 26 January 2023.
- ^ a b Farah, Jama (15 January 2020). "Somaliland Executes six men convicted of murders". horndiplomat.com. Archived from the original on 26 January 2023. Retrieved 25 January 2023.
- ^ "Six Men Convicted of Murder Executed in Somaliland". ftlsomalia.com. 26 November 2020. Archived from the original on 26 January 2023. Retrieved 25 January 2023.
- ^ "EU Statement on the Recent Application of Death Penalty in Somaliland". eeas.europa.eu. European External Action Service. 28 November 2020. Archived from the original on 26 January 2023. Retrieved 25 January 2023.
- ^ "UK "deeply concerned" about executions in Somaliland". hiiraan.com. Hiiraan Online. 17 February 2022. Archived from the original on 26 January 2023. Retrieved 25 January 2023.
- ^ a b Ingiriis, Mohamed Haji (April 2016). The Suicidal State in Somalia: The Rise and Fall of the Siad Barre Regime, 1969–1991. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America. p. 127. ISBN 9780761867203. OCLC 951539094. Archived from the original on 6 March 2023. Retrieved 19 February 2023.
By the late October 1969, most nationalists of anti-colonial era found themselves under prisons, … he retained some others in prison such as General Aideed and Colonel Abdullahi Yusuf, who were detained since November 1969, languishing in prison without trial. […] They were later released in October 1975
- ^ a b "Mohamed Aidid". rebelleaders.org. 2022. Archived from the original on 19 February 2023. Retrieved 19 February 2023.
"Yes, Barre imprisoned Aidid from November 1969 to October 1975. He was incarcerated without trial. His first three years in the Mandera Central Prison were spent isolated from most people. He was only able to speak with fellow prisoner Abdullahi Yusuf".
- ^ "Awdal's Sultan Abshir Released from Mandera Prison". somalidispatch.com. 12 January 2020. Archived from the original on 26 January 2023. Retrieved 25 January 2023.
- Mandhera Prison Category for all Committee to Protect Journalists reports on Mandera Prison
- Tag: Mandera Prison Category for all Horn Diplomat reports on Mandera Prison