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DRC: 66 inmates dead in two months in Makala prison in Kinshasa

DRC: 66 inmates dead in two months in Makala prison in Kinshasa
Prisoners at Makala prison in Kinshasa on December 18, 2012, behind the ...   -  
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Democratic Republic Of Congo

A new report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says that the government has failed to address the problem of drug trafficking in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The report is based on the findings of a study conducted by the UNODC's Human Rights Department and the World Bank.

They died of malnutrition, suffocation, or lack of care, said AFP activist Emmanuel Cole, a prisoner rights activist who regularly visits detention centers.

On Sunday, "two more prisoners died in Makala prison, I myself saw their bodies," he added. These two new deaths in prison bring the death toll for February alone to 35, according to Cole.

In January, his organization documented "31 deaths, including one woman," also at Makala.

Built at the time of the colonial era for a capacity of 1,500 people, the prison currently holds 10,790 inmates, 7,780 of whom are in pre-trial detention, said Cole, who monitors the situation of the prisoners on a daily basis.

Since the beginning of the year, judicial authorities have granted parole to 635 inmates in order to relieve congestion, Cole said, confirming Congolese media reports.

The meals offered to prisoners are not only "insufficient" but also of "poor quality", while "having food should be a right for every prisoner", he insisted.

In power since January 2019, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi touted his human rights record Monday during a speech at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

Mr. Tshisekedi said he had "placed the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms among the priorities of (his) mandate and the action of the government of the Republic.

"We call on the authorities to speed up the procedures so as not to detain hundreds and even thousands of people for long periods without trial or conviction," said Emmanuel Cole.

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