By: Yusuf M Hasan
BURAO (Somalilandsun) – The country’s prisons are gradually being transformed from punitive institutions to corrective ones.
This development is courtesy of an ingenious United Nations Industrial Development Organization- UNIDO project that aims to avail youths with marketable technical skills that are geared towards ensuring that they hold capabilities for both formal and non-formal employment.
The UNIDO project is more specific to inmates as it targets at risk youths who are imprisonment in the country’s prisons for lengthily sentences that have been imposed by the courts for diverse offences.
According to the UNIDO Chief Technical Advisor –CTA for Somalia/Somaliland Mr Sean Peterson youthful inmates at Burao Central prison in Togdeer region of Somaliland are currently benefitting from the project following the provision of Sewing machines to the penitentiary.
In a tweet the CTA for Somalia wrote” In Burao Prison Somaliland UNIDO” class targets at-risk youth with an innovative livelihoods skills training programme”
While UNIDO has so far supplied only sewing machines to the institution plans are at an advanced stage to not only provide similar and other types of machines to various penitentiaries in the country. According to an officer at the Burao Prison Mr Isse Magan youthful inmates have not only registered voluntarily but started receiving instructions with zeal.
While similar programs have been reported by Borama and Hargeisa based prisons the results are yet to be accrued owing to the fact that the project has just been launched in addition to the beneficiaries being those with lengthily prison terms.
The UNIDO “at-risk youth skills training programme” comes at an apt moment for it positively complements a government agenda aimed at reversing the current trends in our prisons whereby inmates especially the youthful ones come out more hardened criminals than they were at their sentencing.
This hardening is as a result of the idleness that prevails in the penal institutions as they are in their current status more punitive than corrective since the inmates especially those with lengthily sentences come out even after 20 years without any relevant skills.
If this planned restructuring of the penal institutions succeeds not only will inmates acquire relevant technical skills and become responsible citizens on release but the government shall also accrue much needed income as others do through sales of inmate produced goods.
A number of items that the justice ministry and custodial corps in close cooperation with UNIDO and other prospective donors should concentrate on is the training of inmates in sewing , Carpentry and masonry for initial provision of Uniforms to the thousands of security officers who depend on this essential item being imported at exorbitant costs.
The prison carpentry workshops will also supply government institutions with high quality office furniture at low costs thus negate current trend of contracting for profit companies who charge exorbitantly.
The masons and carpenters can be utilized in maintaining, constructing or rehabilitating public buildings at the same low cost thus fast-tracking on-going government activities of face-lifting its offices nationwide.
For the donor of UNIDO this is not the first engagement in Somaliland where it maintains a sizeable office in Hargeisa for it has a number of diversified on-going projects not to mention that it has so far completed to heftily funded ones i.e.
• Supporting economic revitalization through income-generation and employment creation in Somaliland (series) $ 861,179 and
• Integration and progress through skills and employment for displaced groups in Somaliland $ 1,051,454 among others.