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Human Rights Watch demands full investigation into Congo prison mass rape incident

Democratic Republic of Congo authorities have made "no apparent progress" in their investigations into the September 2020 prison riot at Kasapa Central Prison in Lubumbashi, Human Rights Watch said. For three days, inmates repeatedly raped several dozen female detainees, including a teenage girl.

The authorities should "provide survivors with adequate medical care and mental health support" and "credibly and impartially investigate the incident, including officials who ignored repeated warnings of the impending riot, and fairly prosecute those responsible for abuses," they added. 

“Congolese authorities should meaningfully investigate and act on the three days of rampage and mass rape at Kasapa prison to punish those responsible and prevent further breakdowns of the prison system,” said Thomas Fessy, senior Congo researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Almost a year on, rape survivors are still awaiting adequate medical care and help as they face trauma and stigma.”

The riot started on September 25, when a group of 15 inmates deemed dangerous and held separately from the others overpowered their only guard and stormed through the prison. They incited other prisoners to violence, set several buildings on fire, and rapidly took over the prison while staff, guards, and security forces fled the prison.

A fire in the women’s section forced the female detainees into the main prison yard for three days without protection, shelter, food, water, or safe access to toilet facilities. Male inmates burned all the women’s belongings and imposed a climate of fear. “For fear of being raped, we wouldn’t even go wash ourselves,” said a 38-year-old female survivor. 

Read more at Human Rights Watch.

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