Conflict & Justice

UN accuses Somalia of issuing diplomatic passport to pirate kingpin


An armed fighter allied to the Somalia's Hobyo pirates holds his high caliber weapon near the central Somali town of Galkayo on Aug. 18, 2010. Hobyo pirates have collected millions of dollars in ransoms over the past two years. They even have currency checking and counting machines for the bags of air-dropped cash they receive.


Roberto Schmidt

A Somali pirate kingpin is being protect by authorities after being issued a diplomatic passport authorized by Somalia’s president, a United Nations report found.

The document, authorized by Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, was used by pirate leader Mohamed Abdi Hassan, who is also known as "Afweyne," back in April while he was on a trip to Malaysia in April, said the report, which was cited by Reuters.

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Afweyne also had in his possession a document issued by the Somali presidency stating he was involved in “counter-piracy activities.”

According to Reuters, the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea uses the report to criticizes the “climate of impunity” enjoyed by senior pirate figures who are given high-level protection from the law both in Somalia and elsewhere.

But in a letter to the security council last week, the Somali President criticized the monitoring group's conclusions as being unbalanced, adding that the report to the contained “unsubstantiated allegations.”

Ahmed had earlier insisted the passport issued to Afweyne was “one of several inducements” that sought to encourage him to dismantling his pirate network, Reuters reported.

The UN report also called for corrupt leaders in Somalia to face immediate Security Council sanctions, adding the problem of corruption filtered right through to the top,” Agence France Presse reported.

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Although the country's Transitional Federal Government, which is backed by the West, ends its mandate next month, many government figures want to remain in power.

The report said that an estimated 70 percent of Somali state revenues were wither “stolen or squandered,” and that corrupt government leaders were acting to boost the cause of the Islamist group al-Shebaab.