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UN rights chief urges Congo prison reforms

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official profile] Thursday denounced the poor conditions of prisons in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) [JURIST news archive] during a visit there, deploring in particular overcrowding and inadequate access to justice. Three thousand people are imprisoned at the CPRK (Centre Penitentiare et de Réeducation de Kinshasa), the largest prison in DRC's capital city, but the facility was originally built to hold only half that number. An Amnesty International [advocacy website] report from 2002 cited 46 deaths in CPRK [report text] between March and June 2002 due to ill-treatment, inadequate medical care, and malnutrition. A 2006 Amnesty report found that conditions still remained substantially the same [report text] in prisons throughout the DRC. Arbour urged DRC officials, including President Joseph Kabila and Prime Minister Antoine Gizenga [BBC profiles], to accelerate prison reforms.

Arbour also faulted the DRC for appointing people implicated in war crimes and crimes against humanity to positions of power within the government. Arbor is currently on a tour of the Great Lakes Region of Africa [press release]. Arbour will continue her tour through next week, with stops in Burundi and Rwanda. IRIN has more.

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