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CONGO: Torture, arbitrary detention, overcrowded prisons

March 2015

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Good Friday Campaign 2015

This year’s Good Friday campaign of ACAT-Switzerland, in partnership with FIACAT and ACAT-Congo, focuses on the widespread practice of torture and arbitrary detention and on the harsh prison conditions in the Republic of the Congo.

Human rights organisations report many violations committed in Congo-Brazzaville during the arrests and questionings of suspects and political dissidents. There is a widespread use of violence, torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments, threats and intimidation. Those acts of torture have sometimes led to deaths without any prosecution of those responsible. In the majority of cases, the arrests are illegal and the detainees have no access to legal counsel.

Prison conditions are deplorable. According to a survey carried out in 2014, the detention centres of Brazzaville and Pointe Noire had an occupancy rate of 483 and 320 percent. The buildings are dilapidated; hygiene conditions are very precarious and access to water limited. The prisoners sleep on thin mattresses on the ground in small overcrowded cells without ventilation or adequate lighting. Small portions of rice and fish are distributed twice a day. Illnesses spread very quickly.

This campaign is the result of cooperation with ACAT-Congo and FIACAT, who will submit an alternative report in view of the consideration of the State report of the Republic of the Congo in the 54th session of the UN Committee against Torture to be held in Geneva from 20 April to 15 May 15, 2015. ACAT-Switzerland wants to back up this initiative by means of a petition inviting the Congolese authorities to guarantee the respect of the human and fundamental rights of persons deprived of liberty as well as of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. A number of organisations within the ACAT network are supporting this campaign.

A meditation by Pastor Nicolas Charrière accompanies this campaign. As prison chaplain, he knows the sorrow and affliction of inmates of Swiss prisons. He invites us to reflect on our attitude towards good and evil, perpetrators and victims.

Thank you very much for your participation.

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