RDC 03 – SUPPORT FOR MAKALA PRISON
Makala Civil Prison is the largest place of detention in the capital Kinshasa. It is located in the municipality of Makala at a distance of about twenty km from our community. To get to the place I have to take three means of transport.
The prison built in colonial times for 1,500 people, only houses more than 9,000 and the number is always increasing.The movement of inmates changes every day, the inmates are divided into 11 pavilions: 9 for adult men, 1 for minors, which are currently 320, and 1 pavilion for women, including underage girls. Their number is 272. Together with the women there are small children born in the prison.
In August 2022, a delegation composed of Human Rights and and the Secretary General of the UN Mission and the Bill Clinton Prisons Foundation visited several prisons in Congo, including Makala prison. In their report they denounced 93 deaths, due to overcrowding, tuberculosis and malnutrition. Out of 10,000 detainees, only 2,573 are convicted, the rest are in pre-trial detention. Their number was reduced by 384 in 2022 thanks to advocacy and constant monitoring by the Catholic Church and other organizations, in favor of reducing too long temporary detention. The report also denounced the slowness of justice in resolving cases involving minor crimes.
From the outset, this project has had the objective of protecting the dignity of the people imprisoned in the Makala prison through various activities. First of all, we continue with the Justice and Peace Commission to pay more attention to the follow-up of the archives of prisoners who have no assistance, or who, despite having served their sentences, continue to be detained for months and years because they cannot pay the mandatory administrative deposit for the release. We always invite the family – if there is one – to collaborate: firstly, to re-establish family ties and then to make them responsible for participating, even with the little they have.
Another service we offer are literacy courses – French and English. Helping them learn to read and write, to know a little French is essential so that they themselves can follow their files as much as possible. A few years ago we started the Information Technology course: but we only have 5 PCs for 17 students. Every year in May, the director of the prison commits himself to signing the certificates of those who have taken the course. But we need to buy computers.
Despite our constant work, the main challenges are still many: the release of sick prisoners, ensuring the necessary food especially for the poorest, guaranteeing adequate health care, the release of minors, especially those guilty of minor crimes and the help for women with psychological problems.
- Give human, material and spiritual support to prisoners
- Provide prisoners awaiting trial with legal advice
- Giving support to released prisoners so that they can start over with their lives
- Guarantee training through literacy, IT and craft courses
- Guarantee food and medicine for the poorest
Direct: the approximately 9,000 inmates of Makala prison
Referring sister: Sr. Anna Brunelli