Prisons latest of DRC concerns

March 13, 2013 at 10:11 AM
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GENEVA, Switzerland, March 13 (UPI) -- The number of deaths in prisons in the Democratic Republic of Congo nearly doubled last year because of poor resources and sometimes torture, a report said.

A report published Wednesday by the U.N. Joint Human Rights Office in DRC said that, from January 2010 to December 2012, at least 211 civilians died in prison. Around the same number of deaths were reported last year as during the previous two years combined.

"It is the responsibility of the state to keep prisoners alive and in good health, in accordance with international standards," U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a statement. "The very serious and persistent problems surrounding detention conditions in the DRC need to be addressed without further delay."

The report attributed the deaths to poor prison conditions, ill treatment and torture. Though recognizing DRC is one of the poorest countries in the world, the U.N. report said corruption was to blame for much of the problem.

DRC is struggling to maintain a peace trajectory following a mutiny waged last year by the rebel March 23 Movement. This week, the United Nations expressed concern about renewed fighting in eastern DRC. The DRC military was put on notice following allegations it employed sexual violence as a weapon of war.

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