A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding transfer of sentenced individuals was signed yesterday between Seychelles and Somalia. Participating in the signing was Seychelles Minister for Home Affairs Mr. Joel Morgan and Mr. Said Mohamed Rage, the Minister for Maritime Transports, Ports, and Counter-Piracy of Puntland, Somalia.
Seychelles Minister Mr. Joel Morgan is currently leading a Seychelles delegation to the high-level conference on piracy, “Global Challenge, Regional Responses: Forging a common approach to maritime piracy,” in Dubai, UAE.
Minister Morgan said that the signing of these MOUs is a clear expression of the goodwill and commitment of the regional authorities of Puntland and Somaliland following the letters of intent they signed on February 9 at a meeting of the Justice Ministers held in Seychelles earlier this year.
It is to be noted that despite recent comments to the contrary, the MOU that has been signed with Somaliland covers the transfer of ALL sentenced pirates and not only those from Somaliland. This breakthrough in the agreement with the Somaliland authorities was achieved on Thursday, April 14, 2011 after intense negotiations brokered by Ambassador Thomas Winkler who is the Chairman of Working Group 2 on Legal Issues for the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS).
Minister Rage, who was accompanied by his Director General Mr. Abdirisak Mohamed Dirir expressed his deep appreciation to the government of Seychelles for all the efforts and actions it has taken to counter the threat of piracy in the region and seized the opportunity to solicit Seychelles’ assistance with the strengthening of Puntland coastal forces.
“Piracy comes from the land and not from the sea; Seychelles being a recognized country, we need you to tell the international community that the only way to solve this problem is on the ground and not on the sea,” said Minister Rage.
Minister Morgan responded saying that Seychelles, as the only country in the region that is actively involved in anti-piracy maritime patrols on the high seas, would be willing to support them by working with the international community in reinforcing the coastal forces of the Puntland authorities and by assisting with training of its personnel in maritime patrols and in fisheries management.
He also told Minister Rage that Seychelles fully supports the proposal that the development of infrastructures on the ground in Somalia must be carried out intensively.
“Somalia needs to develop further its economy, so as to achieve political stability, an important step forward for prosperity and in eliminating the threat of piracy,” commented Minister Morgan.
Minister Rage then went on to conclude that, “If we work together in one team, we will be able to eradicate piracy in the region and also in the Gulf of Aden.”
Minister Morgan has said that he views the historic signing as an important step in the collaboration of Seychelles and Somalia in the fight against piracy and as a platform to develop and extend this model further in the region.
The Seychelles’ delegation was comprised of Ambassador Joseph Nourrice, Lieutenant Colonel Georges Adeline of the Coast Guards, and Mr. Jacques Belle of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.