News / Africa

DRC: Lynchings Increased After Prisoners Freed

Prisoners are seen at the Makala prison in Kinshasa from behind the bars of the windows of a court room, on December 18, 2012.
Prisoners are seen at the Makala prison in Kinshasa from behind the bars of the windows of a court room, on December 18, 2012.
Nick Long
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, civil society activists say lynch mobs have killed nine suspected criminals in the eastern city of Goma since November.  The activists blame the surge of so-called "popular justice" on the authorities' failure to track down and detain more than 1,100 inmates who were allowed to escape prison.

Lynchings were not uncommon in Goma even before rebel group M23 took control of the city in November and left it in early December.  But since then, civil society and government leaders say there’s been an increase in the number of suspected criminals killed by mobs.
 
Jean Pascal Mugaruka is acting head of civil society for the city of Goma.    He tells VOA that since late November at least nine people have been burned alive because they were caught stealing or were caught in possession of stolen property.
 
According to Mugaruka, people have been taking the law into their own hands because the justice system isn’t working and they were frustrated that more than 1,100 prisoners were let out of jail.

They were also taking revenge for abuses suffered at the hands of the M23 rebels, he said.
 
Several sources told VOA that the prisoners in the central jail were released by soldiers on November 20, just before the Congolese army abandoned Goma to the rebels.
 
For most of December the jail was unused, but in the past two weeks some of the detention blocks have been reopened.
 
There is an operational prison now in Goma, says Mugaruka, so lynch law can no longer be tolerated, even though the justice system is not yet fully operational, and the military tribunal which hears soldiers’ cases is not yet back in action.
 
He says civil society has spoken out against lynchings and is planning awareness-raising activities to campaign against the practice.
 
Goma civil society groups are calling on the authorities to track down the escaped prisoners, most of whom were soldiers convicted of armed robbery.
 
So far, says Mugaruka, less than 20 of the escaped convicts are back in the central jail, but the authorities are searching for the others.
 
He says the military police have offered $100 to anyone providing information leading to the arrest of an escaped convict, and the authorities have also organized mixed patrols of soldiers and police who are tracking down bandits, while others have been shot dead by the military police.

The head of the justice department in Goma, Lidia Masika, confirmed there had been an upsurge of lynchings in the city since the prisoners were released from the central jail.
 
Masika told VOA that there were currently only three escaped convicts back in the jail, all men who had given themselves up voluntarily.  She said another group was being held at police and military jails elsewhere in the town, awaiting formal charges, but she could not say how many.
 
United Nations Radio in the Congo reported that fifty suspects, including some escaped convicts, were arrested during police raids in Goma late last month.  

Mass escapes from prison have been occurring regularly in the DRC in the past few years.
 
Mugaruka says prisoners sometimes escape with the complicity of prison managers, who take bribes from prisoners’ relatives.  He says political influence can also lead to breakouts.
 
A United Nations source who preferred to withhold her name said she was glad the prisoners had escaped, as some were in danger of dying from malnutrition.
 
Mugaruka said there had been cases of prisoners dying for lack of food in Goma’s jail.  He said some food was provided in the prison, but not enough, and the stronger prisoners took more than their share.

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More