UN to build safe detention facilities for Women Pending Trial

DR Congo:

UN to build safe detention facilities for women pending trial

Prison conditions throughout the DRC are well below international standards

September 2010 – United Nations peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are building detention facilities in the country’s troubled east to ensure that female detainees are safely and securely housed while they await trial.

The new facilities, which will house about 50 inmates and be located near the public prosecutor’s office in the Ituri district, are being constructed by the Guatemalan Special Forces contingent in the UN peacekeeping mission to the DRC, known as MONUSCO.

Currently female detainees in Ituri, the scene of continued violence and tensions in recent years, often have to share space with male detainees.

The project should be completed within 12 weeks, when it will be handed over to the local judicial administration.

Funding for the “quick impact project” was approved by MONUSCO after a request for construction from public prosecutors in Ituri.

“This project will have an important impact in enhancing the State authority and improving the respect to the rule of law in Ituri,” said Erivan Santiago, head of MONUSCO’s Rule of Law section in the town of Bunia. “This initiative reflects the commitment of MONUSCO to accomplish its mandate.”

In related news, 60 journalists and media managers from North and South Kivu provinces recently took part in a workshop aimed at improving their capacities to cover sexual violence trials.

The training, held from 30 August to 10 September in Bukavu and Goma, was organized by the UN Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) with a Canadian non-governmental organization (NGO).

In the DRC, particularly in North and South Kivu, armed conflict has often involved sexual violence. Despite the adoption in 2006 of laws severely punishing all sexual violence, perpetrators are not always punished and impunity persists. This training, sponsored by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), was aimed at tackling such impunity.

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