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Farmajo pardons 148 prisoners as measure to curb Coronavirus spread in Somalia

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - As part of critical measure to curb the possible spread of Coronavirus, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo pardoned 148 prisoners, Villa Somalia said, even as the world grapples with the pandemic.

Thursday's presidential directive, Villa Somalia said, would help to decongest the country's crowded correctional facilities, which have been earmarked as possible hotspots for the coronavirus disease.

Somalia has several prisons in various towns but a number of them are located in the capital, Mogadishu. Although the nation's judiciary system is almost dysfunctional, most convicts are a result of robust trials in military courts.

A report on the status of the prisons prepared by Attorney General Suleiman Mohamed, Villa Somalia added, "informed the president's decision to release the inmates" in solidarity with the fight against the disease.

The directive, which will be implemented by the office of the AG, comes barely a day after Somaliland leader Muse Bihi Abdi also pardoned 500 inmates due to coronavirus outbreak. Somaliland declared it's independence from Mogadishu in 1991 but it's yet to gain Int'l recognition. 

President Farmajo also instructed the commander of custodial corps to work with the ministry of health "by putting proper safety measures" in prisons to combat the spread of the disease which has claimed 45,000 lives globally.

Article 90, paragraph 16 of the Somali Federal Republic Constitution gives president powers to pardon prisoners in consultation with top judicial officers. Most inmates in Somalia are convicts of terror and other crimes.

Prime Minister Hassan Ali Kheire emphasized the need for citizens to keep social distance, which is one of the basic measures in the fight against the virus which has infected close to 950,000 people worldwide.

“who calls on the public to adopt the necessary measures to protect themselves from getting the disease,” the PM said. “As a result of the current global health crisis, we should accept that we are in trying times, hence the need to intensify the necessary preventative measures to contain the spread of COVIDー19 and save lives.”

Already, a total of five positive cases have been recorded in Somalia. Two of the cases were confirmed in the breakaway Somaliland state. But one case has since recovered of the five, the health department said.

To curb the spread of the disease, the government has further suspended both domestic and international flights indefinitely, besides also ordering the closure of all learning institutions including Madrassa.

The selling and importing of Khat had been also suspended. Mass gatherings were also banned in the Horn of Africa nation, which still takes most samples to Nairobi for testing due to a dysfunctional health system occasioned by the civil war and Al-Shabaab menace.

The country received test kits and other medical supplies last week from Ethiopia, which were donated by Chinese philanthropist Jack Ma, who also extended the same to all African countries, reports indicate.

Despite inadequate medical personnel in Somalia, the government also dispatched 20 medical doctors to Italy, which has borne the brunt of COVID-19 disease. Officially, over 12,000 people have died in the country.

Medics are yet to find an appropriate vaccine for the disease, which is now taking roots in the US, despite having first spread from China. The Communist state has been accused of "concealing" vital details about Coronavirus.

The pardoning of inmates in Somalia also coincided with Kenya, which releases 4,800 prisoners on Thursday. The East Africa nation has so far recorded 81 positive cases, of which three have recovered and one died.


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