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Retraining of prison officials begins in France

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KINSHASA, 11 Jan 2006 (IRIN) - The retraining of 20 Congolese civilian and military prison personnel began on Wednesday in the southwestern French town of Agen, as part of the Democratic Republic of Congo's effort to shore up its maintenance of the rule of law, the press attaché at French embassy in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, said.

The official, Pascal Perennec, said training at the National Penitentiary School of Administration at Agen (l?Ecole Nationale de l?Administration Pénitentiaire d?Agen - ENAP) would cost 112,000 euros (US $135,241).

"It is, in fact, a French-supported programme concerning the re-establishment of the rule of law, which lies within a larger three-million-euro project that includes [revamping] the judiciary and the police," Perennec said.

Candidates were selected after taking examinations set by the Congolese government and ENAP. On completion of their three-month training, officials will be reassigned to various correctional institutions in the Congo.

The conditions of Congo's prisons are deplorable. The UN Mission in the DRC has documented many deaths in these institutions caused by malnutrition and overcrowding. The mission has also spoken out against the long periods of preventive detention.


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