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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid