Fundamental legal safeguards
Noting the constitutional and legislative provisions regulating police custody, which
provide that such custody may not exceed 48 hours, after which the suspect must be
released or brought before the public prosecutor, the Committee is concerned that, in
practice, suspects are often held without having any contact with their families or with a
lawyer, for periods greatly exceeding the legal limits, without being brought before a
judicial authority. The Committee is of the view that such practices leave suspects
vulnerable to a high risk of torture or ill-treatment. The Committee is also concerned about
the state of the National Police punishment cells, the vast majority of which are described
as overcrowded, insalubrious and lacking ventilation, sanitary facilities and bedding (arts.
10, 11, 14 and 16).
The Committee reiterates the recommendation made in its previous concluding
observations (para. 7 (c)) and urges the State party to:
Ensure that police custody never exceeds 48 hours, after which all
suspects must either be brought before an independent and impartial judge or be
(b) Guarantee that all detainees, whatever the charges brought against them,
enjoy all fundamental legal safeguards from the outset of their deprivation of liberty,
including the rights to: (i) be promptly informed of the grounds for their arrest, the
charges against them and their rights in a language they understand; (ii) have prompt
and confidential access to an independent lawyer, in particular during police
questioning and throughout the proceedings, or receive legal aid; (iii) request and
receive a medical examination without conditions and in full confidentiality, carried
out by qualified medical personnel, immediately on their arrival at a police station or
detention centre, and have access to an independent doctor of their choosing, on
request; (iv) inform a family member or any other person of their choosing about
their detention; and (v) have their arrest recorded immediately in a register located at
the place of detention and made available to any competent authority, and in a
computerized, central register;
Systematically verify that State officials respect, in practice, all legal
guarantees and scrupulously keep registers, and punish any failure to do so;
Improve physical conditions for those held in police custody by ensuring
that cells provide a reasonable amount of space, are equipped with bedding and
sanitary facilities and afford appropriate hygiene conditions.
Incommunicado detention
Recalling the recommendation made in its previous concluding observations (para. 7
(a)), the Committee remains seriously concerned about consistent and credible reports that
numerous people are being placed in police custody or pretrial detention by the civilian
intelligence service (the National Intelligence Agency) and its military counterpart (military
intelligence headquarters) in secret locations, including numerous National Intelligence
Agency punishment cells, in Kinshasa and other provinces. The Committee is also
concerned that article 5 of Decree-Law No. 1/61 of 25 February 1961, concerning State
security measures, allows the Agency’s criminal investigation officers to arrest a person
and place him or her in administrative detention merely on the basis of a decision of the
Minister of the Interior, without judicial oversight of the lawfulness of such detention.

The State party should:

Provide the Committee, when it submits its next periodic report, with a
comprehensive list of all its places of detention;

Close all unofficial places of detention;

Revise its legislative framework and practice to ensure that all arrests
and detentions, including those for which officers of the National Intelligence Agency
are responsible, are subject to oversight by the judicial authorities.



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