Geneva, 7 December 2009
The Human Rights Council’s working group today adopted its report on the universal periodic review (UPR) of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The UPR working party had three hours in which to verify that the Democratic Republic of Congo had fulfilled its international obligations and undertakings in the field of human rights. Fifty-nine members of the Council and observers spoke during the sitting, at which numerous concerns were raised regarding torture, the death penalty, ending impunity and prison conditions.
FIACAT wishes to thank the eleven States  that submitted prior written questions to the DRC and congratulates the DRC on its responses to these.
The DRC agreed to 123 of the 163 recommendations made. Some were very specific, such as Switzerland’s request that priority be awarded to prison reform by making sufficient resources available and finding solutions to the lack of foodstuffs and care. Switzerland regretted that the laws governing the prison system were outdated and that the facilities, administration and training were inadequate.
FIACAT hopes that the DRC will take that recommendation seriously and respond to it as swiftly as possible. Prison conditions in the DRC are indeed deplorable. Jails are overcrowded and prisoners are not separated according to gender, age or whether or not they are members of the military. Prisoners are malnourished and do not have access to adequate medical care. Branch offices of the DRC ACAT have also reported that, in some jails, corporal punishment such as morning beatings is still practised.
FIACAT would also encourage the DRC to agree, at the thirteenth ordinary session of the Human Rights Council, to the recommendation by Austria aimed at ensuring all prisoners have access to legal assistance and at guaranteeing that members of the security forces responsible for acts of torture are brought before the courts.