Oral declaration by FIACAT and ACAT DRC in response to the intersession activity report by the Special Rapporteur on Prisons and Places of Detention in Africa (Item 8 B) i) of the Agenda)
African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 48th Ordinary Session
November 10-24, Banjul, the Gambia
The International Federation of Action by Christian for the Abolition of Torture (FIACAT) and the ACAT Democratic Republic of Congo salute the intersession report of the Commissioner Mrs. Atoki concerning prisons and conditions of detention in Africa.
Generally speaking, the conditions of detention in Congolese prisons are particularly difficult. Conditions can often be classified as cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment.
The ACAT Kinshasa antenna took a census of 5897 detainees imprisoned at the Penitentiary Center and of the Reeducation of Kinshasa (CPRK) in September 2010; this prison has a capacity of 2,000 people.
In North Kivu:
At the Munzenze central prison in Goma, the total prisoner population often exceeds 600% of the prison’s capacity; this was the case at the end of June 2010. The majority of individuals living in this prison are defendants who have not yet been judged — they are not separated from those who have been convicted. In June 2010, the the ACAT North-Kivu branch found that 20 people — 10 women and 10 children — were being detained without having been listed in the prison register. Along a similar vein, the Minova dungeon cell has a surface area of 4 square meters, has no windows and is entirely unsanitary. On May 26, 2010, 8 individuals occupied it, which works out to 0.5 square meters per individual.
Detention in such conditions of overcapacity constitute a way in which authorities can pressure suspects to admit to the acts of which they have been accused for the sole goal of being released, no matter what the condition of their release.
In the Oriental Province:
The central prison of Kisangani is in a critical state that requires urgent rehabilitation. The OSIO prison is in an equally deplorable state. The two prisons are covered by tiles and metal sheets that are reinforced, in certain areas, by tarps, which leak and seep water.
The two prisons in Kisangani — the central prison of Kisangani and the OSIO prison — house, as of September 2010, 1557 detainees for a maximum capacity of 457.
There is no separation between defendants and those who have been convicted within the prisons and houses of detention. They share the same cells and endure the same treatment.
Male minors who have been detained as defendants are housed in Kisangani in a house of detention of their own. However, women and female minors are confined to the same space as the men; they are separated from the men by a wall in a state of advanced decay.
The prison guards and oldest inhabitants of the prisons and places of detention reserve especially bad treatment for new arrivals; these punishments consist of cleaning the toilettes by hand or imprisonment in the nauseating bathrooms for long periods of time. This harm and these injuries are inflicted upon new detainees until they agree to a cash payment of approximately $20 US. This sum is turned over to an internal administration managed by the oldest detainees.
The prison diet is an equally chronic difficulty and the origin of numerous tensions between detainees. The rations are insufficient in quantity and quality and the detainees are often given the same food.
In 2008 in North-Kivu, the quantity of food provided to detainees at the Munzenze prison of Goma consisted of one cup of corn and beans, called Mbungule, a day.
In Katanga, detainees are literally famished; nutritional deficiencies are the main cause of death in the prisons.
In the central prison of Kassapa, the ACAT branch registered 5 deaths in May and June of 2010.
In the Kamina prison, in the Upper-Lomami, 2 deaths were registered in June 2010.
In the Oriental Province, dietary rations are quasi inexistent, the detainees must wait for visits from their families of religious groups to receive food to eat. This giving of food is subjected to extensive hassling on the part of prison guards, notably a payment of several fees is required in order to gain contact with the defendants or detainees.
Access to medical treatment is inexistent in the prisons of Oriental Province. The ACAT Province Orientale branch notes that individual visits with the doctor are very irregular.
The hygiene facilities in the prisons and detention camps are not disinfected and are in a bad state.
Family visits are conditional on the payment of consequent taxes, which families often cannot afford.
The Munzenze prison in Goma requires the payment of a tax of 200 Congolese Francs by the families of detainees before visitation rights are granted. In Kisangani, these visits are conditional on the payment of a sum between 300 FC and $5 US, according to the social class of the person receiving the visit, to the prison guards.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.