Somalia (Puntland)

No Data

Immigration detainees

Not Available

Detained children



The autonomous Puntland State of Somalia is both a source and transit country for migrants and refugees seeking passage to Ethiopia, Kenya, and the Persian Gulf. Authorities in Puntland have created checkpoints along transit routes where migrants are intercepted and detained. Apprehended foreigners often face prolonged periods in detention.

Types of facilities used for migration-related detention
Administrative Ad Hoc Criminal Unknown

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Last updated: August 2016

Somalia (Puntland) Immigration Detention Profile

The autonomous Puntland State of Somalia is both a source and transit country for migrants and refugees seeking passage to Ethiopia, Kenya, and the Persian Gulf. Many people from Ethiopia and Somalia attempt to use the Puntland coast as a launching point to begin the hazardous journey across the Gulf of Aden to reach Yemen and other Gulf States. Many of the smugglers operating boats that cross the gulf are notorious for their inhumane treatment of passengers and many people die each year during the crossing.[1] Roughly a dozen foreigners, mainly men between the age of 19 and 33, are reportedly detained each month.[2]  

Authorities in Puntland have established checkpoints throughout the country in an attempt to intercept foreigners heading west towards Ethiopia, Sudan, and Libya. People stopped at these checkpoints report being interrogated and ultimately detained.

People can be confined in immigration detention facilities, at checkpoints, or in police stations. There have been numerous reports dating back at least a decade of migrants and refugees being detained at an ad hoc camp located in the Bossaso seaport.[3] Other reports indicate that some eight different facilities have been used in Bossaso and Garowe to detain irregular migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees.[4]

In 2012, the UN Independent Expert for Somalia described detention conditions as being close to inhumane. Detention facilities lacked food, water, basic sanitation, and proper ventilation.[5] While Somalia allows for monitoring by independent NGOs, including weekly monitoring of two detention centres by a local organization, authorities refused to authorize visits by the UN Political Office for Somalia or the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia’s human rights unit in 2013.

Previously, in 2006, the International Organisation for Migration reported that a camp was temporarily opened in Bossasso to confine “stranded migrants. UNHCR and the IOM reportedly assisted in the operation of the camp. According to an IOM Field Mission report, “At the beginning of November 2006 there were approximately 500 Ethiopians residing at a closed centre awaiting the screening process. ... The centre was located a few miles away from the Bossasso airport on a secluded dry piece of land encircled with hills. The authorities had at least four armed officers making sure no one escaped from detention. The weather is extremely hot, dry, and dusty and shelter for the migrants consisted of plastic sheets mounted on wood sticks.”[6]


[1] UNHCR, “Gulf of Aden drownings raise concerns over smuggling and rescue-at-sea tradition,” 15 April, 2011,

[2] Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat, Behind Bars: The Detention of Migrants in and from the East & Horn of Africa, 2015,

[3] International Organization for Migration (IOM), Field Mission Report: Stranded Ethiopian Migrants in Bossasso, North East Somalia/Puntland, IOM MRF Nairobi, November 2006.

[4] UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Somalia Factsheet, June 2015; Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat, Regional Mixed Migration Summary for September 2012,

[5] Human Rights Council, “Report of the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Somalia, Shamsul Bari,” United Nations, A/HRC/21/61, 22 August 2012,

[6] International Organization for Migration (IOM), Field Mission Report: Stranded Ethiopian Migrants in Bossasso, North East Somalia/Puntland, IOM MRF Nairobi, November 2006.


Total number of detained minors
Not Available
International migrants
International migrants as a percentage of the population
Ratio of refugees per 1000 inhabitants
Total number of new asylum applications
Refugee recognition rate
Stateless persons
Total number of immigration detainees by year
Number of immigration detainees on a given day
Top nationalities of detainees
Number of persons granted alternatives to immigration detention
Number of detained asylum seekers
Number of detained unaccompanied minors
Number of detained accompanied minors
Number of detained stateless persons
Number of apprehensions of non-citizens
Immigration detainees as a percentage of total international migrant population
Estimated total immigration detention capacity
Number of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres
Estimated capacity of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres
Number of dedicated medium-term immigration detention centres
Number of immigration offices
Number of transit facilities
Number of criminal facilities
Number of ad hoc facilities
Number of persons removed/returned (voluntary returns and deportations)
Number of deportations/forced returns only
Percentage of persons removed in relation to total number of people placed in removal procedures
Criminal prison population
Percentage of foreign prisoners
Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population)
Estimated number of undocumented migrants


Gross Domestic Product per capita (in USD)
Remittances to the country
Remittances from the country
Unemployment Rate
Unemployment rate amongst migrants
Net official development assistance (ODA) (in millions USD)
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP)
Detention for deterrence
Pew Global Attitudes Poll on Immigration
Immigration Index Score
World Bank Rule of Law Index
Domestic Opinion Polls on Immigration


Maximum length of time in custody prior to issuance of a detention order
Maximum length of detention for persons detained upon arrival at ports of entry
Legal tradition
Constitutional guarantees?
Core pieces of national legislation
Additional legislation
Regulations, standards, guidelines
Immigration-status-related grounds
Non-immigration-status-related grounds providing for administrative detention in immigration legislation.
Does the country provide specific criminal penalties for immigration-related violations?
Grounds for criminal immigration-related detention/incarceration and maximum potential duration of incarceration
Has the country decriminalized immigration-related violations?
Maximum length for administrative immigration detention in law.
Longest recorded instance of immigration detention.
Average length of detention
Maximum length of detention for asylum-seekers
Provision of basic procedural standards
Types of non-custodial measures
Impact of alternatives
Is the detention of vulnerable persons provided in law? Are they detained in practice?
Mandatory detention
Expedited/fast track removal
Re-entry ban


International treaties
Ratio of relevant international treaties ratified
International treaty reservations
Individual complaints procedure
Ratio of complaints procedures accepted
Treaty bodies decisions on individual complaints
Relevant recommendations issued by treaty bodies
Regional legal instruments
Regional treaty reservations
Regional judicial decisions on individual complaints
Recommendations issued by regional human rights mechanisms
Bilateral/multilateral agreements linked to readmission
Visits by special procedures of the Human Rights Council
Relevant recommendations by UN Special Procedures
Relevant recommendations of the UN Universal Periodic Review


Custodial authority
(Puntland authorities) Local Authority
Detention Facility Management
International Organisation for Migration (International or Regional Organization)
Ethiopian immigration (Governmental)
Types of detention facilities used in practice
Federal or centralized governing system
Centralized or decentralized immigration authority
Apprehending authorities
Formally designated detention estate?
Authorized monitoring institutions
Is the national human rights institution (NHRI) recognized as independent?
Does NHRI carry out visits?
Does NHRI have capacity to receive complaints?
Does NHRI publicly release reports on immigration detention?
Does national preventive mechanism (NPM) carry out visits?
Does NPM have capacity to receive complaints?
Does NPM publicly release reports on immigration detention?
Do NGOs carry out visits?
NGO capacity to receive complaints?
Do NGOs publish reports on immigration detention?
Do parliamentary organs carry out visits?
Do parliamentary organs have capacity to receive complaints?
Do parliamentary organs publicly report on their detention findings?
Do internal inspection agencies (IIAs) carry out visits?
Do IIAs have capacity to receive complaints?
Do IIAs publicly report their findings from detention inspections?
Do international and/or regional bodies (IRBs) visit immigration-related detention facilities?
Do IRBs publicly report their findings from inspections?
Types of privatisation/outsourcing
Detention contractors and other non-state entities
Estimated annual budget for detention operations
Estimated annual budgets for particular detention-related activities
Estimated cost per detainees day (in USD)
Estimated annual budget for non-custodial measures (in USD)
Estimated costs of non-custodial measures (in USD)
Does the country receive external sources of funding?
Description of foreign assistance