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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05BAGHDAD4429 2005-10-27 15:39:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

KADHIMYAH WOMEN'S PRISON: CONDITIONS ADEQUATE, BUT

Tags:   PHUM PGOV PINR IZ 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

271539Z Oct 05
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 004429 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/27/2015
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PINR IZ
SUBJECT: KADHIMYAH WOMEN'S PRISON: CONDITIONS ADEQUATE, BUT
LACKS STRUCTURE


Classified By: POLCOUNS ROBERT S. FORD FOR REASONS 1.4 (B)
AND (D).



1. (C) SUMMARY: On October 19, Poloffs visited Kadhimiyah
Women's Facility located in Baghdad. According to Director
Faisi Mehda, this prison is the only women's facility in
Iraq. During the visit, Poloffs discovered a fairly well
appointed building that seemed to provide a clean and safe
atmosphere for its inmates (although not up to US
standards). However, weaknesses of this facility included
lax internal discipline and control measures, the haphazard
intermingling of inmates, and the lack of inmate activity.
Inmate statements indicated a basic lack of understanding
of legal status, as well as allegations of police abuse
prior to arriving to the prison. End Summary.



--------------------------


OVERALL, FACILITY IS ADEQUATE


--------------------------





2. (C) With a capacity of over 200 inmates, Kadhimiyah's
Women's Prison "comfortably" holds 162. Inmates are boarded
in large rooms holding more than 20 beds. Though somewhat
crowded, these rooms allow for comfortable movement and
activity, and appeared to be clean and moderately well
appointed. Prison Director Faisi Mehda told Poloffs on
October 19 that each inmate is allocated bedding materials,
as well as personal hygiene products to meet their needs.
All the prisoners that Poloffs met with were well groomed
and clean.



3. (SBU) Corrections officers inside the prison are all
female, and medical and counseling services are also
available to inmates. The Medical Office staff includes 4
nurses, 1 doctor, 1 dentist, and a lab technician. All
prisoners are evaluated by the medical staff upon intake.
Nearby Kadhimiyah hospital allocates a special section in
its facility to deal with more serious medical ailments.
The prison facility also provides inmates two family
visiting days and the opportunity to meet regularly with
one of 6 social workers.




--------------------------


INMATES CO-MINGLED, LAX INTERNAL SECURITY


--------------------------





4. (SBU) The facility houses both convicted felons, as well
as pre-trial detainees, and both adults and juveniles.
Petty criminals are co-located with more serious offenders,
including death row inmates. Although the facility
separates adults and juveniles at night, all inmates appear
to have the ability to move freely throughout the prison
facility and intermingle.



5. (SBU) In many instances during the tour, Poloffs noticed
unlocked gates that separate different sections of the
facility. Poloffs also noted that many inmates who were
seen in one section of the prison would suddenly appear in
other "sectioned-off" areas. At one point in the tour,
Poloffs were led towards a holding cell to talk with
inmates. Upon seeing the approaching visitors, the inmates
of that cell scurried to their room, hurriedly closed the
gate, arranged the lock, and waited patiently on their beds
until the prison Director formally "opened" up the room.



6. (SBU) Regulations regarding inmate clothing do not
appear to be uniformly applied. Although required to wear
blue, many of the prisoners are allowed to keep (and in
some cases actually wear) their street wear, which
theoretically could be used to easily slip out of the
facility. Despite these security weaknesses, the prison
has reportedly not experienced any "prison-breaks."



7. (SBU) Poloffs also met with the 22 juvenile inmates who
are being housed in this facility because there is no
girls' juvenile detention hall. The youngest is a 12-year
old, the eldest 17. Many of the girls indicated that they
did not know why they were being detained. One girl said
that she was accused of terrorist activity. Another girl
mentioned almost nonchalantly that she had been gang-raped
by three men, but could not comment on why she was brought
in.



--------------------------

--
LACK OF STRUCTURED ACTIVITIES


--------------------------

--



8. (SBU) The Director, who has only been on the job for one
month, was hard-pressed to describe a concrete and
structured schedule for the women. She said the women sew,
make crafts, and in some cases work on reading skills.
Approximately 30 percent of the girls indicated that they
do not know how to read, but staff said juveniles do not
receive any schooling beyond the very basic literacy
program. The Director suggested as possible improvements
a garden for the children and a kitchen where the inmates
could cook. (NOTE: The prison has no kitchen facilities so
food is catered. END NOTE.) She also expressed hope that
a self-sustaining manufacturing or small business venture
could be established in the future.




--------------------------


TELLING COMMENTS: INMATES TELL THEIR STORY


--------------------------





9. (SBU) Although shy at first to reach out to Poloffs, the
floodgates 'burst' once Poloffs began to pose questions to
the inmates. The majority proclaimed their innocence and
expressed concern about their status. Multiple inmates
declared they were uncertain as to the reason that they
were charged. One woman said she had been acquitted of all
criminal charges, but could not leave the facility because
there was no family to pay for her transportation back.
Others said they had been there for several months (in some
cases over a year) without a formal hearing or charge.
Amidst the cacophony of inmate complaints, there seemed to
be a general theme: an imprecise understanding of where
they fell in the legal process and what the next step for
them was.



10. (SBU) Another theme was that of police abuse prior to
arriving at the facility. The Prison Director initially
touched on this theme, which was seconded by some inmates.
She noted that a good number of inmates had arrived at the
facility with bruises and other evidence of physical abuse.
The Director said there had been at least one alleged case
of rape. In all cases of alleged abuse, the Director noted
that the women's facility took photos and contacted the
Ministry of Justice. Several inmates corroborated this,
saying torture was used to force a confession.




--------------------------


COMMENT


--------------------------





11. (C) Overall, the inmates at the Kadhimiyah women's
facility seem to be treated well. It was telling that they
had no qualms about complaining, even in the Director's
presence. The facility is clean, and the inmates are
provided with both medical care and social work services.
Although daily activities are limited, their morale seemed
to be reasonably high during the visit. The lack of
adequate security measures marks one of the major
differences of this prison from its counterparts in the US,
as well as the co-mingling of different categories of
prisoners. Despite the lack of good internal security, the
facility does not report any instances of serious inmate
violations nor breakouts, and appears to function well.

Satterfield