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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                    

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

Prison conditions are life threatening, and long periods of pretrial detention are common. Security forces have tortured prisoners.

Civilian authorities do not maintain effective control of security forces. The FARDC are largely undisciplined. There have been reported incidents of soldiers exchanging intelligence and weapons with armed groups. Soldiers and police regularly commit serious human rights abuses, including rape and torture. In February 2017, FARDC soldiers recorded themselves killing civilians in Central Kasai province.

[Freedom House Country Report, 2018]

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Congo

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

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Committee against Torture examines the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

UN Committee against Torture, Geneva, 25 April 2019

[accessed 12 May 2019]

In the dialogue that followed, Committee Experts deplored the deteriorating human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the fact that 63 per cent of the numerous human rights violations were committed by State agents. The suppression of and crack down on human rights defenders, journalists, and political opposition throughout the country was a serious concern, as was the use of force to repress protests and demonstrations. The national prevention mechanism had not yet been set up and the 2011 law on the criminalization of torture had not yet achieved any impact due to its poor dissemination among key actors concerned, and many magistrates continued to apply the old legislation which considered torture as an aggravating factor rather than a standalone crime. The Experts were concerned about the structural and functional anomalies, and the duplication of power and authority in the judiciary and multiple authorities which had the power to arrest and bring people into custody.

The lack of judicial independence, inefficiency, and judicial corruption seemed to be the order of the day. Arbitrary detention was widespread, and secret detention centres continued to exist in which torture and cruel and degrading treatment was practiced.

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: DRC

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 8 July 2021]


There were reports of disappearances attributable to the SSF during the year. Authorities often refused to acknowledge the detention of suspects and sometimes detained suspects in unofficial facilities, including on military bases and in detention facilities operated by the National Intelligence Agency (ANR). The whereabouts of some civil society activists and civilians arrested by the SSF remained unknown for long periods. Despite President Tshisekedi’s promise to grant the United Nations access to all detention facilities, some ANR prisons remained hidden and thus were impossible to access.


The law criminalizes torture, but there were credible reports the SSF continued to abuse and torture civilians, particularly detainees and prisoners. Throughout the year activists circulated videos of police beating unarmed and nonviolent protesters.


Physical Conditions: Central prison facilities were severely overcrowded, with an estimated occupancy rate of 200 percent of capacity. For example, Makala Central Prison in Kinshasa, which was constructed in 1958 to house 1,500 prisoners, held as many as 8,200 inmates simultaneously during the year. In August 2019 the National Human Rights Council published findings from visits to prisons in each of the country’s 26 provinces in 2018. The council found that all except four prisons were grossly overcrowded and most buildings used for detention were originally built for other purposes.


Prison officials often held individuals longer than their sentences due to disorganization, inadequate records, judicial inefficiency, or corruption. Prisoners unable to pay their fines often remained indefinitely in prison (see section 1.e.).

Freedom House Country Report

2018 Edition

[accessed 11 May 2020]


Prison conditions are life threatening, and long periods of pretrial detention are common. Security forces have tortured prisoners.

Civilian authorities do not maintain effective control of security forces. The FARDC are largely undisciplined. There have been reported incidents of soldiers exchanging intelligence and weapons with armed groups. Soldiers and police regularly commit serious human rights abuses, including rape and torture. In February 2017, FARDC soldiers recorded themselves killing civilians in Central Kasai province.

Torture of Activists Routine in Congo

Ida Sawyer, Deputy Director, Human Rights Watch HRW-Africa

[accessed 11 November 2018]

UK Group Documents Longtime Use of Electric Shock, Rape to Crush Dissent

The military, police, and intelligence services in the Democratic Republic of Congo have routinely tortured political and rights activists, including by gang rape, choking and electric shock, according to an exhaustive new report.

In the report released this week, the UK-based Freedom from Torture documents the extensive use of torture in detention in Congo, based on forensic documentation and psychological assessments of Congolese asylum seekers in the United Kingdom.

DR Congo 'condones' torture of activists: NGO report

Agence France-Presse AFP, Kinshasa, 5 November 2018

[accessed 6 November 2018]

"Torture, including rape, is endemic in the detention system, irrespective of the detaining authority or type of detention facility," the 99-page report stated.

"Most of those who are detained, men and women alike, are raped, on multiple occasions and by multiple perpetrators. The rapes take place in a context of absolute impunity."

The report is based on 74 medical and legal files of Congolese nationals over the last five years who fled to Britain after being allegedly detained and tortured.

Sixty-five of the cases, men and women, said they were sexually tortured, the vast majority raped at least once, including vaginally, anally and orally.

More than half of those who were raped described episodes of gang rape, the report said, resulting in profound physical and psychological injury.

Beatings, burning with heated metal or cigarettes, positional torture, sharp force trauma such as cutting, stabbing or biting, being forced to stare at the Sun, partial asphyxiation and electric shocks were also among the methods of torture reported.

"Different branches of state security — police, military and intelligence agencies — commit torture and other human rights violations from the point of arrest, and at both official and unofficial detention sites," the report said.

Veteran Accuses Congo Officials of Torture

Britain Eakin, Courthouse News Service, Washington, 1 Aug 2016

[accessed 2 August 2016]

[accessed 30 December 2017]

According to the lawsuit, ANR officers interrogated Lewis for 16 hours daily at the new location.

"Interrogations were timed to disrupt sleep and cause severe sleep deprivation for Mr. Lewis," the complaint alleges.

His captors slowly starved him with small, infrequent meals and denied him basic hygiene necessities, and threatened him with indefinite imprisonment should they extract a confession from him, Lewis claims.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or

[accessed 18 March 2015]


ABUSES BY SECURITY FORCES - In the capital, Kinshasa, the Congolese police launched “Operation Likofi” in November 2013 to remove gang members known as “kuluna” from the streets. During the operation, the police extrajudicially executed at least 51 young men and boys and forcibly disappeared 33 others. Police dragged some of victims out of their houses at night and shot them dead before taking their bodies away.

In October and November 2013, as the army moved into territories previously controlled by the M23 in eastern Congo, soldiers raped at least 41 women and girls. Soldiers and intelligence officers in Rutshuru arbitrarily arrested several people, accused them of supporting the M23, and forced them to pay money for their release.

Rape as torture in the DRC: Sexual violence beyond the conflict zone

Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, Freedom from Torture -- 2014 Report

[accessed 13 June 2014]

EVIDENCE OF TORTURE - The torture documented in the 34 medico-legal reports included rape, in all but one case, and a range of other forms of sexual violence; beatings and assaults in all cases; burning in half of the cases and cutting, stabbing and forced or stress positioning in many more.   In  the case of one woman, a Freedom from Torture doctor documented 68 scars attributable to torture. Fifty-six of these scars were attributable to a specific instance of gang-rape.   The women reported genito-urinary symptoms and chronic pain – back and joint pain and persistent migraines – attributable to their experience of detention and torture. Two women were diagnosed HIV positive and another two women disclosed pregnancies that were the result of rape.   One of our clinicians reported her client "...was gang-raped more than once. They raped her vaginally, anally and orally, forcing her to open her mouth and to swallow the semen."

Democratic Republic of Congo: Rape, gang rape and multiple rape rampant in prisons and detention centres

Freedom from Torture, London, 3 June 2014

[accessed 3 June 2014]

Rape as Torture in the DRC: Sexual Violence Beyond the Conflict Zone [REPORT] analyses evidence from 34 forensic medical reports written by specially trained doctors at Freedom from Torture and clearly indicates that rape is being used as torture by state security forces in prisons across the country to stop women speaking out about politics, human rights and, in some cases, rape itself.   Women of all ages from 18 to 62 are affected and the group includes traders, graduates and professionals. Almost all of the women were arrested because they were involved in political or human rights campaigning or because a family member or relative of theirs was politically active.

All but one of the women were raped on multiple occasions during their detention. All were subjected to other forms of sexual abuse such as being burned on their genitals and breasts with cigarettes or cut with knives.   In more than half of the cases examined by Freedom from Torture in the report, the women were gang raped, with some instances involving up to ten rapists. In one case alone, a doctor documented 68 scars attributable to torture, 56 of which were attributable to one particular incidence of gang rape.

In international law rape committed by state officials can amount to torture, but in DRC rape as an act of torture goes mostly unacknowledged and unpunished. Weaknesses in the justice system, lack of resources, corruption and the impunity with which members of the security services can commit human rights violations mean that there is little hope of survivors of rape obtaining justice, even where the rape amounts to torture, or of preventing such crimes in the future.

The United Nations welcome that Criminalization of torture in the DRC is moving forward

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights OHCHR, Kinshasa/Geneva, 9 July 2013

[accessed 11 July 2013]

[accessed 21 July 2017]

Two years after the enactment of the law criminalizing torture, the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) welcomes progress in the fight against this scourge and the first convictions of state agents who have practiced or encouraged the use of torture in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Since the enactment of the law on the criminalization of torture on 9 July 2011, a law which legally defines and criminalizes this crime for the first time in the history of the country, at least five soldiers of the Congolese armed forces (FARDC), five agents of the Congolese National Police, one agent of the national intelligence service and one administrative official have been convicted for practicing and/or encouraging the use of torture. Sentences which ranged from six months to life imprisonment were imposed by courts in Equateur, Bas Congo, Kasai Occidental, Katanga, Maniema and Orientale provinces.

Since 2012, the Minister of Justice and Human Rights has engaged in a series of activities across the country to sensitize defense and security forces, judicial authorities and civil society actors on the content of the law and to ensure its effective implementation.

Congo prisoners dying from hunger, torture

Reuters, KINSHASA, 13 March 2013

[accessed 15 Aug  2013]

More than 100 prisoners in Democratic Republic of Congo died in jail last year, some from torture, the United Nations said on Wednesday, calling on the government to halt the abuse.

Poor healthcare, malnutrition and overcrowding accounted for most of the deaths, but more than 10 percent died after torture or mistreatment by prison guards or security forces, the report said.

“Someone deprived of their liberty should never be allowed to die of hunger or ill-treatment. It is the responsibility of the state to keep prisoners alive and in good health,” Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, said.

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. CAT/C/DRC/CO/1 (2006)

[accessed 25 February 2013]

D. Subjects of concern and recommendations

5. The Committee notes with concern that the State party has neither incorporated the Convention in its domestic legislation nor adopted legal provisions to ensure its implementation, and notes in particular:

(a) That there is as yet no definition of torture in domestic law that strictly corresponds to the definition contained in article 1 of the Convention;

(b) That the law of the Democratic Republic of the Congo does not confer universal jurisdiction for acts of torture;

(c) That there are no provisions giving effect to other articles of the Convention, particularly articles 6 to 9.

The Committee recommends to the State party that it take all necessary legislative, administrative and judicial measures to prevent acts of torture and ill-treatment in its territory, and in particular that it:

(a) Adopt a definition of torture encompassing all the constituent elements contained in article 1 of the Convention and amend its domestic criminal legislation accordingly;

(b) Ensure that acts of torture constitute offences over which it has jurisdiction, in accordance with article 5 of the Convention;

(c) Provide for implementation of the Convention, especially its articles 6 to 9.

6. The Committee is also concerned about repeated allegations of widespread torture and ill-treatment by the State party’s security forces and services and about the impunity allegedly enjoyed by the perpetrators of such acts.

(a) The State party should take effective measures to prevent any acts of torture or ill-treatment from occurring in any part of the territory under its jurisdiction;

(b) The State party should take vigorous steps to eliminate impunity for alleged perpetrators of acts of torture and ill-treatment, carry out prompt, impartial and exhaustive investigations, try the perpetrators of such acts and, where they are convicted, impose appropriate sentences, and properly compensate the victims.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015


Torture and other ill-treatment were committed by armed groups and government security forces, including the FARDC, the national police, the National Intelligence Agency and the Republican Guard. Security forces often committed torture and other ill-treatment in detention facilities following arbitrary arrests. NGOs and UN officials continued to be denied access to many facilities, and secret and unofficial holding cells were still in use.

In July, the DRC promulgated a law criminalizing torture. Implementing this legislation remained a key challenge as security services continued to commit torture and other ill-treatment, including in illegal detention facilities.

Between 27 July and 1 August, during a military operation in Rutshuru territory, North Kivu, FARDC soldiers reportedly arbitrarily arrested 27 people as a reprisal for alleged FDLR collaboration. At least eight of them were allegedly subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and forced labour.

On 13 April, in Vusamba, Lubero territory, North Kivu, a PNC detainee was whipped 40 times before being freed because he could not pay the US$40 requested for his release.


Government security forces and armed groups continued to attack and intimidate human rights defenders, including through death threats and arrests.

On 23 June, the Kinshasa/Gombe military court sentenced five policemen to death in relation to the abduction and assassination of prominent human rights defender Floribert Chebeya and the disappearance of his driver, Fidèle Bazana, in June 2010. Other key individuals allegedly involved were not investigated.


For current articles:: Search Amnesty International Website

[accessed 25 December 2018]

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Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 22 January 2013]

[accessed 3 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law does not criminalize torture; although there was a draft bill before parliament that would criminalize torture, it had not been adopted by year's end. Security forces and prison officials often beat and tortured detainees and prisoners. There were also unconfirmed reports that members of the security services tortured or abused civilians to settle personal disputes for themselves or other government officials.

Members of the security services employed cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment.

On November 27 in Kambabma-Kaboneke, for example a FARDC officer reportedly arrested, beat, and whipped a woman after she refused to let him take shelter in her house during a rainstorm. There was no additional information at year's end.

There was no known action taken against members of the security forces responsible for torture or abuse in 2004 or 2003.

Armed groups operating outside government control in four eastern provinces kidnapped, tortured, raped, and otherwise physically abused numerous persons during the year (see section 1.g.).

No known action was taken against those members of the former RCD-G militia or any other armed group previously accused of torture, beatings, or cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment in 2004 or 2003.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, " Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Democratic Republic of the Congo ",, [accessed <date>]