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Cablegate: A Tale of Two Prisons

VZCZCXRO5526
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0953/01 2210802
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 090802Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6686
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KINSHASA 000953

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM CG
SUBJECT: A TALE OF TWO PRISONS

1. Summary. Prisons in the DRC are barely functional. The
directors of the Bukavu and Kinshasa prisons say their
biggest challenges include crumbling buildings, overcrowding,
lack of food and medical care, and no salaries. End summary.

--------------------------------------------- ----
Bukavu Prison: Where the Director Lives in a Cell
--------------------------------------------- ----

2. The Central Prison of Bukavu, in the South Kivu
provincial capital, was built in 1928 and has not been
rehabilitated since. PolOff and DRL Human Rights Officer
visited it June 28. Walls and roofs sometimes fall on
detainees, and the toilets quit functioning years ago. The
prison has a capacity of 700, but many sections, including
those for minors, are no longer being used as detention
facilities. Instead, police use cells as offices, and the
prison director and his family of nine share two cells in the
former European cell block. The 489 prisoners share a dozen
large chambers in which they are grouped by gender. Nearly
two thirds of those in the prison are in pre-trial detention
and have not gone before a judge.

3. Prison Director Emmanuel Amisi told us the prison had not
had a food budget since 1987. The detainees survive on
donations from family and churches. When donations are
sufficient, prisoners are fed once per day at 10 a.m. Amisi
said he has allowed detainees to gather wood for cooking from
a nearby forest, but some have escaped in the process. The
prison has little medicine, and none for the most common
illnesses, such as malaria. There is no prison vehicle to
transfer prisoners to the hospital, no money to pay for their
care, and no personnel to guard them during their
hospitalization.

4. Amisi and the police and soldiers who serve as guards at
the prison are essentially volunteers. None have been paid
in more than two years. Amisi and his family live at the
prison not only because he cannot pay for lodging in town but
because he has repeatedly received death threats blaming him
for prison escapes.

--------------------------------------------- ------
Kinshasa Prison: Something to Eat, but Little Else
--------------------------------------------- ------

5. The Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Center of Kinshasa
(CPRK) is newer and larger than the prison in Bukavu. Built
in 1958, it has eleven wings and a capacity of 1,500
detainees. The actual population, however, is 4,057, over
half of which are military. Although women and children are
held separately from men, military and civilian populations
are mixed, as are pre-trial detainees and already convicted
prisoners. Prison Director Dido Kitungwa told us July 3 that
most of that of 213 prisons in the DRC, only three are
military. Fewer than 100 of the prisons are functioning; the
rest are essentially in ruins.

6. CPRK is the only Congolese prison with a budget for food.
A local NGO provides water to sustain a small garden within
the institution, but a prisoner told us that food is
insufficient. Families supplement the meager prison food
supply. (Note: A riot broke out in the prison in 2006 when
family visits were temporarily halted. End note.) Sanitation
is substandard, and Kitungwa told us prisoners are sick "all
the time." For example, in the women's quarter, which houses
127 women and infants, there are four toilets. Kitungwa said
the women often suffer from skin and vaginal infections and
typhoid. As in Bukavu, the prison has no cars to transport
the sick to hospitals and no regular visits by doctors.

7. Although Kitungwa receives a small salary, most of the
guards are not paid regularly. This makes them vulnerable to
corruption, according to Kitungwa The prison has only 50
staff, and most are not trained. The more than 3,000
visitors each day go directly into the cells to visit
prisoners, and attempted rapes and assaults are regularly
reported.

8. Kitungwa told us he was well aware of international norms
and standards for prisons but could not apply them due to
overcrowding. He said the Netherlands planned to provide
funding to rehabilitate Ndolo, the military prison in
Kinshasa and hoped that all 2,000 soldiers currently
incarcerated at CPRK could be moved there. He lamented the
lack of donor interest in prisons because "problems with
prisons lead to problems with impunity."

KINSHASA 00000953 002 OF 002

---------------------------------------------
Comment: Nothing to Hide, Everything to Gain
---------------------------------------------

9. Prisons in the DRC are in such deplorable condition that
penitentiary employees are eager to show-and-tell to any
potential international donor that visits. They open cell
doors and invite prisoners to tell their stories. Budgets
are clearly inadequate to realize any significant
improvements. Charged with the care of society's lowest
rung, the best chance prison directors have is to plead for
assistance along with their detainees. End comment.
MEECE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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