Somali Prime Minister, Hassan Ali Khaire on Monday confirmed that Ethiopia had handed over some 120 Somalis held in its detention facilities.
He tweeted the news in Somali, a translation of which read: ‘‘Ethiopia agreed to hand over 120 Somali Prisoners in the framework of an agreement we reached.’‘
No details were released on when the agreement was reached and what conditions were attached. The PM is currently representing President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo at the 29th African Union Heads of State summit in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia agreed to hand over 120 Somali Prisoners in the framework of an agreement we reached.
Waxaan ku guuleysanay in ay Itoobiya nagu warejiso 120 Maxabiis Soomaali ah iyadoo fulinaysa heshiiskii ay Soomaaliya la sashay #Soomaaliya
— SomaliPM (@SomaliPM) July 3, 2017
Reports in local media indicate that he will fly back to Mogadishu with the released prisoners. They further report that Somalis have been held in Ethiopian jails without trial with a number of them dying in detention.
It also remains to be known whether the prisoners had served their full sentences. A journalist with the Voice of America (VOA) also tweeted that the prisoners were “reportedly charged and held for various offences including “illegal” entry.”
Ethiopia to release 120 Somali nationals from a prison in Jigjiga, they were reportedly charged/held 4 various offences incl "illegal" entry
— Harun Maruf (@HarunMaruf) July 3, 2017
Ethiopia is seen as a major player – politically, economically and security-wise in the Horn of Africa region. Aside Eritrea, with who they have a long drawn border dispute, Addis Ababa is on good terms with all its other neighbours.
Ethiopia is actively engaged in the fight against Somalia’s insurgent group, Al-Shabaab. They contribute to the Africa Union mission (AMISOM) and also deploy troops independently to combat the insurgents next door.