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The DR Congo government inauguration will take place after the action plan is discussed. FILE.

UN says over 100 inmates died in DR Congo prisons since start of year

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According to UN Human Rights Officer director Patrice Vahard, 104 inmates have died so far this year in Democratic Republic of Congo’s prisons.

The main cause of the deaths was contagious diseases such as tuberculosis, which spread easily in crowded facilities and require unavailable medical attention. Insufficient food also contributed, the official said.

This compares to 222 prison deaths in 2023.

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

In an interview, 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.

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