On the International Day of Women Human Rights Defenders 29-11-2017 , the human rights defender Warda Bin Sumait (Yemen) talks  to IOHRD about her initiative.

Prisoner’s Relief Initiative:

Prisoner’s Relief Initiative was launched in 2011 at Aden, in the Southern part of Republic of Yemen. The initiative aimed at improving the deteriorating and inhuman conditions of prisoners. We were deeply concerned for this particular group as it is the most forgotten and oppressed social group in our society.

Although prisoners constitute an integral part of modern society, they are stripped of all their civil rights once incarcerated within the penal institution. As such, we established Prisoner’s Relief as a voluntary humanitarian initiative with a firm belief that “every human being has the right to live in dignity even if he/she is guilty of committing a crime.”


1- Promote prisoners’ rights awareness in the society and among the prisoners themselves.

2- Provide community orientation to persuade stakeholders that prisoners need their assistance.

3- Initiate relief work for prisoners and provide basic needs.

4- Set up an advocacy network both at the local and international levels to promote prisoners’ rights awareness.

5- Track all urgent cases of prisoners particularly those of women and children.

6- Initiate partnership with local and international NGOs to draw their attention to the plight of prisoners.

7- Provide human rights orientation to stakeholders to preserve the right of prisoners.

The following short film captures our work at Prisoner’s Relief Initiative:


Within a short period of time, the initiative has attracted the attention of those concerned with rights of prisoners both local and international levels, and its work was commended as a pioneer initiative facilitating changes in Yemen, particularly perceptions about prisoners.

The initiative was founded by lawyer and human rights activist Warda bin Sumait, whose work is widely recognized in Yemen and acknowledged by international NGO groups.

In fact, one organization produced a documentary film about Ward’s work with prisoners. You can access the film through the following link:


Here is also an interview with Warda at a Yemeni press, where she talked about her experience as a lawyer assisting prisoners, in what considered as a taboo – breaking practice for women to interact with people behind the bar.


In addition to that, the initiative has made significant achievements both at the local and international level by highlighting the plight of prisoners, particularly highlighting the conditions of women prisoners, juveniles, and civil war prisoners. The initiative worked with those prisoners and facilitated the process of rehabilitation, training and capacity building.

Similarly, during the Yemeni civil war of 2015, the initiative played a significant role in protection of the war victims by creating a humanitarian relief devoted to helping wounded children and women in hospitals and displacement sites. More specifically, the initiative played a vital role in 2015 war, where it campaigned intensively to free child soldiers and worked on their rehabilitation and reintegration into society. The campaign with children prisoner has received community acknowledgement and featured in documentary film titled as “worrier children”. You can access the documentary here:



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وردة بن سميط مبادرة إغاثة سجين


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