[JURIST] Somalia’s prime minister on Sunday appealed to the US government and US banks to resume allowing money transfers to Somalia, a crucial service for many in the war-torn country. Almost all US banks have stopped allowing remittance services to Somalis in the US due to recently enacted legislation [US News report] that attempts to stop money from reaching terrorists such as al-Shabab [BBC backgrounder]. These funds, which total $1.3 billion annually, are critical for many people and businesses in a country that lacks a great deal of financial structure. Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke [official website] said in a statement [Reuters report] that he has spoken to US government officials, as well as continually asking US banks to reconsider their decision. “I will seek to appease their concerns and I will do everything in my power to find a permanent, legitimate and transparent solution,” he said.
The country of Somalia has been in turmoil for years due to issues of poverty, hunger and war. Earlier this month the Spanish National Court sentenced [JURIST report] six Somali pirates to 16 years in prison for an October 2012 attack on the Spanish boat Izurdia. In November the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution [JURIST report] renewing its international call to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia. In August a Somali police official reported that security forces arrested Somali pirate [JURIST report] Mohamed Garfanji. Garfanji, second-in-command of Somalia’s pirate industry, was arrested for possessing illegal arms and other charges related to piracy. In April the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights urged [JURIST report] Somali authorities to place a moratorium on the death penalty.