WADI Projects: Prisoners
Description of WADI's activities to empower Prisoners in Iraqi-Kurdistan
Working in the prisons of Iraqi Kurdistan and empowering prisoners
is one the important aims of WADI's activities. Since 1998 WADI promoted
several activities and projects at the prison of Sulaimanyah. Our aim
with this projects is to improve the human rights standard inside the
penal institutions. For the prevention of future crimes, our projects
are helpful for the rehabilitation of the prisoners. The institution
shall be able to give the prisoners possibilities to live a life without
crime. The goal is to change their minds and to give the inhabitants
of the prison the abilities to be able to return into society as a useful
In Iraq under the rule of Saddam Husseins prisons were the places, where
this Regime committed the heinous crimes against it's own people. Torture
in all forms, prison cleansing campaigns and mistreatment were the rule,
while the live of a human being counted nothing. Changing the attitudes
towards prisoners is an important step to improve the overall situation
of Human Rights in Iraq.
Description of the Prisons
In Iraq-Kurdistan the prison is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry
of Social Affairs. The Ministry is known as an institution of social
reform. In opposite to Saddams regime the aim of the execution of a
sentence is not revenge or torture but rehabilitation. The specialized
General Directorate of Social Reform directly supervises the activities
of the prisons administration and the manner of living of the prisoners.
The Prison of Sulaimanyah consists of the following departments:
Activities that are Promoted by WADI Inside the Prison:
WADI so far has preformed a couple of long term projects in the different
divisions of the prison. These projects were very successful for the
rehabilitation of the prisoners and have become a foundation for the
prisons work. Because of that the reforming office has given WADI the
license to continue the work with the imprisoned people. The WADIs prisoners
project consists of the following sections:
A. Mens Department
a. The workshop-projects:
The purpose behind this project is to teach the men useful occupations
to benefit them when they are released. These skills shall also help
them, when they still live inside the prison, so that they are able
to entertain themselves and get some economic profits. Specially those,
who are poor, and those, who have come from far away places - so they
cannot be visited by their families - often depend on learning new skills.
For that reason WADI promotes different workshops.
I. Carpentry workshop:
This workshop was founded in 1999. Untill now 20 prisoner have benefited
from this workshop by finishing to learn an occupation. The prisoners
got the chance to work for different ogranisations; such as: KCF, ICRC
and WADI. Because of this extension of clients much more carpentry courses
could be performed, so now up to 70 prisoner are learning carpentry
in this workshop.
II. Blacksmith Workshop:
It opened in 2000. WADI supplied it with all necessary tools and the
main materials for work. One reason for founding this project was its
necessity as a complementary part for the needs of other projects. It
also played an important role building up the structur of the prison.
Especially, more than 500 iron beds were made here for the use of the
prison. Peace Winds Japan (PWJ) has ensured orders for beds, that were
buildt in the prison of Sulaimanyah.
III. Computer Training Courses with Specialized Teachers:
On the prisoners own initiative in 2002 a workshop that deals with computer-skills
was opened by WADI. The prisoners suggested to ensure computers and
arranging courses for them.
At first it was unbelievable for prisoners to have computers etc. inside
the penal institution. But after an agreement with the director of social
reform, WADI was allowed to install 3 computers, a printer and what
else is needed to open computer-courses inside the prison.
The reactions of the prisoners were very positiv. In every course 10
prisoners learn and train how to use computers. Untill now 3 courses
were arranged and every course lasted 15 days. The prisoners, who passed
the course, try to give their new learned computer-skills to other prisoners.
We also tried to connect the prison with the Internet. But because the
prison is 7 km far from the Internet center in Sulaimanyah, this project
failed because of technical problems.
For the prisoners these courses are important to issue their periodical.
This means that there is an expansion of their activities. This workshop
promotes the social live and the communication inside the penal institution,
which is important for an reaction against the negative consequences
IV. Training Courses to Eradicate Illiteracy:
Many prisoners are illiterate. That is why we opened periodical courses
for them. We also helped them to build up courses on their on initiative.
In every course 50 to 60 prisoners are learning and training how to
write and read. Every day the prisoners are taught for two hours on
the base of a constant program. Prisoners who learn fast and well, are
rewarded for encouragement.
Because of the urgency, we promoted and opened several courses to fight
illiteracy. We ensured the needs of the courses and provided teachers
as well as stationary. The prisoners reactions were very enthusiastic
about the courses.
These courses were arranged by WADI in cooperation with the Ministry
of Education. There is an formal agreement to install this courses on
a regular basis.
V. Language Courses:
By our initiative language courses in English, Arabic and French have
been arranged in the prison. Many of the prisoners have learned English.
That enabled them to direct demands towards International Organizations.
These courses were useful in raising learning standards inside the prison.
In addition to the courses festivals and special exhibitions have been
arranged. This has strengthened the social structure inside the prison
in a very positive way.
Gifts were distributed for the active prisoners. For every organised
activity many people from foreign organizations were invited. On the
day of the festival, prisoners have also been invited to make a picnic
outside the prison. This was done for the rehilitation of the prisoners,
so they can see and feel that they are part of their society and that
they are not excluded from it, because of their crimes. On the other
hand they could realise, that they are busy with useful things in the
prison and that their work is appreciated by the civil society.
VI. Library and Creation of Horizon-Group:
In 2001 a Library was built with the help of WADI. The Library now contains
more than 1300 different books. The prisoners are using the library
as a center of education and communication. The library also has a room
for meetings. In this room the culture and education seminars for the
prisoners take place.
The library has also a constant exhibition of the hand-made products
of the prisoners. It is open for all prisoners, whenever they want to
borrow books and take them to their cells. Daily newspapers are available
for their use as well.
Some prisoners are issuing a special periodical, which is published
in a form of a book:
After developing the prisons library, WADI thought about establishing
a special committee for the prisoners to supervise their cultural activities.
For this purpose we established the "Horizon of Reformation"
group. WADI helped this group to perform several activities, especially
issuing a special wall-periodical called "Asoi Goran". This
Prison-Wall-Newspaper is a unique project in Iraqi Kurdistan. Every
prisoner can write articles about any topic without censorship. Each
year WADI publishes the best articles as a book for distribution in
order not only to encourage the prioners, but to show the Kurdish Society,
that there is a life behind the walls of the prison.
Also prisoners are empowered to write for Kurdish Newspapers and weeklies
like Hawlati. Where possible we try to encourage the exchange between
the prison and the "outside world".
B. Women Department:
The number of the imprisoned women is just between 10-15. This created
an environment for close cooperation between the prisoners and WADI.
The activities of WADI since 1995 in the women's prison were:
Participating in the establishment of a board to defend women in the
In 2002 a board was found by WADI and ASODA and Information Center of
Women. This "Board for the Assistance of Women in Prison"
is still active and plays a good role in protecting the prisoners rights.
It coordinates the activities of different local and International NGO's,
who are supporting the Women in Prison
C. Juvenile Department:
WADI does not have constant projects in this part of the prison. Nevertheless
we have sponsored the infrastructure in this division in the past.
Now the arrested young men just stay for a short time inside the penal
institution. This department now is a specialized and separated part
of the whole institution. It is not called prison any longer, but department
of rehabilitation. Many other organizations work in this division. So
we decided just to develop WADI's activities in the other divisions
of the prison of Sulaimanyah.
In 2003 WADI started to support the Women Prison in Arbil by enlarging
the library there.
Since a long time we are trying to get funds for opening "Family
Rooms" in Sulaimanyah Prison, in which the prisoners could meet
their families once a month overnight in a private atmosphere in order
not to alienate from them. The right of privacy (meeting their wifes
etc.) should be granted.
Now after the liberation of all Iraq we are planning to expand our activities
to other parts of Iraq in order to improve the situation of prisoners
there. As far as possible projects of Sulaimanyah Prison should be implemented
in other prisons of the country.
Also we intend to offer training courses for Social Workers and other
employees of the Iraqi Prisons to offer them more knowledge about the
reformative programs, which were developed in Iraqi-Kurdistan during
the last decade. Prisoners should be treated according to the Human
Rights standards in order to change the attitude in Iraq towards Prisons.
These training courses should also be held inside Sulaimanyah Prison
in co-operation with the Horizon Group to include the prisoners in these
Falah Muradkhin Shakir
Postbank Frankfurt · Account 612 305 602 · BLZ 500 100
- Association for Crisis Assistance and Development Co-operation
Headquarter: Herborner Str. 62, 60439 Frankfurt/ M, Germany
Tel ++49-69-57002440, Fax: 57002444, Email:
Branches in Iraq:
Tel: 061 -7600305