DR Congo campaigners sound alarm over jail overcrowding
Campaigners in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Wednesday sounded the alarm over the country's jails, saying chronic overcrowding was being amplified by the judicial system.
Makala Central Prison in the capital Kinshasa, a facility built before 1960 during Belgium's colonial rule and designed to house a maximum of 1,500 prisoners, now has a population of around 10,000, they said.
Three-quarters of the prisoners have not been sentenced, they added.
The city's Ndolo Military Prison has more than 2,000 inmates, four times its designed capacity, according to the report by the Bill Clinton Foundation for Peace (FBCP) and a Congolese organisation, the NGO Collective for Human Rights.
Overcrowding is so bad that prisoners sometimes sleep in the showers or standing up, and sickness and infections caused by poor hygiene and bad food are rampant, it said.
The monitors' previous report, published late last year, was followed by a prison tour by the minister of justice, who vowed to take steps to reduce overcrowding.
But, the report said, a trip to Makala and Ndolo on August 10 showed that this promise was "merely political" and the problems remained unresolved.
It urged the judicial authorities to crack down on abuse of power and kickbacks in the court system that had led to a backlog of cases, causing defendants to languish in custody.