News release

Family visits help prisoner rehabilitation

Port Moresby (ICRC) – Visits by families to correctional institutions contribute positively towards the rehabilitation of detainees, according to Rueben Rupa, the Rehabilitation and Welfare Officer of Bekut Correctional Institution (CI) in Bougainville.

Mr Rupa was speaking in Bekut CI on Friday, 4 March 2016, at the start of a three-day family visit programme for families organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The visits, run with the support of the Bougainville branch of the PNG Red Cross Society, bring families of detainees who could not otherwise afford to travel to visit their loved ones in detention.

A total of 63 family members visited 17 detainees. The relatives included elderly parents of detainees and their children, including a few toddlers.

According to internationally recognised humanitarian principles, detainees have the right to be visited by their families. The ICRC facilitates the visits based on its humanitarian mandate and global experience of working in prisons. The visits enable the detainees and their relatives to meet in person and share some time together.

Mr Rupa said the visits helped the mindsets of both the prisoners and their families, adding that Bekut CI was willing to allow more families to visit if the ICRC could organise more tents to house the families plus the related logistics.

A relative of one detainee, Mr Vincent Stoe said: "We want to thank the ICRC and Bekut management and warders for allowing us to come and visit our sons in prison. When we come on these visits, we show them that we love them and that, no matter what their offence, they are still welcome at home after they have served their time in prison."

"The visits are very important," said ICRC's Head of Office in Arawa, Fadi Farra. "For some of the participants it's their first visit to their relative in prison. One of the relatives travelled from Kieta to our office in Arawa this week to be part of the visit because she hadn't seen her daughter for many months. Seeing the mother and daughter sitting together and talking during the visit showed how much this visit meant to her."

This was the first visit of the year to Bekut and the ICRC is planning two more. Last year the ICRC organised two visits to the correctional institution.

For further information, please contact:
Dan Waites, ICRC Port Moresby, tel. +675 708 80 624
Betty Oala, ICRC Port Moresby, tel. +675 709 93 061