guinea-bissau has no prisons??

IRIN reports that Guinea-Bissau has no prisons. Yes, seriously. A “sovereign” state in 2009 has no formal prisons. According to the US State Department the Guinea-Bissau government detains suspects in make-shift detention centres and military bases.

Don’t you wish it was 1894 and it was still cool to move into Bissau and change things a bit? How does the international system sit back and pretend that Guinea-Bissau, as currently constituted, is a viable state? The number one function of the state should be to protect its citizens – from both foreign aggressors and internal thugs. A state that has no prisons is clearly sending a very loud signal that it cannot perform its basic function and in effect should be game, if only it was still 1894.

Defending Nairobi

The New York Times has a story on the security situation in Nairobi. In the interest of full disclosure, Nairobi is my home town. I was there this summer and would like to point out – just for the record – that although Nairobi may not be the safest place in the world, it is not the most dangerous city in the world either. The city has 4 million people, give or take. Income inequality is off the charts. The city’s economy cannot provide enough jobs for its youth, most of whom do not spend enough time in school and therefore resort to petty theft to earn a living. This summer there was a wave of kidnappings. Some were by real criminals. At least one that got exposed was by a young woman trying to get money from her father by pretending that she was kidnapped.The Nairobi city council is run by a bunch of clowns.

I agree with Gettleman that the incidence of crime in Nairobi is way too high. That said, Nairobi is not Jo’burg or Kabul. It is still very much a live-able city – as evidenced by the many NGOs and UN agencies that have set up shop in there.