In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), juvenile justice is ignored by the judiciary system. The lack of resources allocated by the State is detrimental to the children in conflict with the law. In spite of the difficulties, the BNCE-RDC, a core member of the BICE, continues to support and assist the children in conflict with the law.
Detention conditions against international standards
There is an important lack of human and financial resources in the judiciary system for minors in the DRC. During a meeting in May 2015, the president of the Kinshasa Children’s court explained to representatives of the BICE and of the BNCE-RDC the challenges and the extreme poverty of justice for minors in Kinshasa, and in the DRC in general. Indeed, there is no budget allocated for the operation of the juvenile justice system.
In the Makala central prison of Kinshasa, pavilions 9 and 10 are reserved for convicted children.
The detention conditions are extremely alarming and do not respect the minimum standards in terms of hygiene, health or the assistance of children.
Penitentiary overcrowding is endemic. Pavilion 10 has a capacity of 70 but a count in April 2015 showed 308 minors, that is an occupation rate of 440%!
Most children don’t even have a mattress and have to sleep on the bare floor.
In addition, the Makala prison does not have medical support adapted to children. If a child is sick, they then need to be transferred to one of the public hospitals in town – but because of the lack of financial means, the transfer is impossible most of the time. These conditions are against all the international norms regarding justice for minors and often prevent a long-lasting reinstatement of the young in conflict with the law into society.
The BICE and the BNCE-RDC commit to aid children deprived of freedom
Despite the challenges, the BNCE-RDC assists hundreds of children in conflict with the law daily in Kinshasa, thanks to the BICE’s Childhood without Barriers program.
This support takes place in several ways: judiciary assistance, social and psychological aid, food and health support and help towards reinstatement.
The BNCE-RDC social workers take action daily in the Malaka prison. They bring psychological and social support to the convicted children, organise school support classes and professional training, in addition to playful and recreational activities.
The daily presence of the social workers also reassures the children in regards to the penitentiary authorities and helps to create a protective environment.
Moreover, the BNCE managed to negotiate an agreement with a bakery in Kinshasa, allowing them to get bread and pastries for the convicted children, a necessary food supplement given the insufficient rations.