• Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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More than 100 inmates die in DR Congo’s prisons so far in 2024 – UN

UN chief unveils new policy brief to boost peace, security

A United Nation human rights official has said that over 100 inmates have died so far since the start of this year in Democratic Republic of Congo’s highly congested and poorly funded prisons.

The official said on Wednesday that the deaths were majorly caused by contagious diseases such as tuberculosis, which spread easily in crowded facilities and require immediate medical attention. Insufficient food also contributed, the official added.

The U.N.’s Joint Humans Rights Office has so far confirmed 104 deaths in detention since the start of 2024, its director Patrice Vahard said.

This compares to 222 prison deaths in 2023, he said in an interview.

Most of the recorded deaths occurred in Congo’s eastern provinces of North Kivu and Tanganyika, and in the western province of Kwilu.

Vahard said this was where families lived too far away from prisons to bring detained relatives food.

Congo’s prisons are among some of the world’s most overcrowded, and all have a problem with inadequate funding, Vahard said. He cited a prison in Kwilu where a cell with a capacity of 50 people housed more than 200.

Congo’s Human Rights Minister Albert Puela said the government was aware of the issue, and that efforts were being made to improve conditions and release inmates in pre-trial detention, which often exceeds legal limits because of judicial backlogs.

Around 70 inmates in pre-trial detention were released from the main prison in the capital Kinshasa last weekend.