Reference : V-P-IQ-E-01229
Date : 18/11/2012
Country/Region : IRAQ
Caption : Suleymanieh governorate, Chamchamal city, federal prison. Relatives visit their loved ones held at the prison, with the support of the ICRC.
Photographer : KRZYSIEK, Pawel
Confidentiality level : public
Publication restrictions : publication without restrictions
Copyright : ICRC
Description :
ICRC website, Feature 13/02/2013

Iraq: Family visits to prison bring smiles and hope

After learning that a number of people held in Chamchamal Prison had not been visited by family members for many years, the ICRC set about making it easier for such visits to take place. Four of the visitors tell their stories and share their feelings.

On the regular visits the ICRC has been making since 2008 to Chamchamal Prison, in the northern Kurdish region of Iraq, to assess the conditions of detention and the treatment of detainees, the organization observed that a number of detainees had not been visited by members of their families for long periods, in some cases for as many as nine years.

The main reason for the lack of visits was the fact that many of the families live in the centre and the south of Iraq, far from the prison, and could not afford to travel there.

In cooperation with the prison authorities, in November 2012 the ICRC undertook to help the families visit their loved ones held in Chamchamal Prison. Members of the families of 85 detainees were given financial assistance to cover the costs of transportation and accommodation.

The visits took place during the second and third weeks of November 2012, on Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays. Families went to Chamchamal from 11 different governorates in Iraq.

Two tents were set up for the visits in the prison courtyard. At first, the atmosphere was filled with anxiety as family members waited for their relatives to emerge from nearby cells. But as soon as they saw them coming, one by one, their fear was replaced by tears of happiness. It was time to catch up after years with little or no contact. The visitors and detainees enjoyed sharing news, memories and a lunch together.

After more than two hours, it was time for the visitors to the prison and their detained relatives to part. Although it was difficult for them to do so, they took comfort in knowing that many precious memories would remain with them.

Every family came away from the visit with a story to tell and feelings to share… Here are just a few.

Original material : digital
Resolution : 5616x3744
Orientation : landscape
Colour/B&W : colour