The top United Nations official in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on Saturday voiced deep concern at the escape from prison of two national army officers who were convicted of gross human rights violations, including rape and murder.
A colonel in the Congolese armed forces (FARDC) escaped from Bukavu prison in the eastern province of South Kivu during the night of 21-22 September, less than two weeks after he was sentenced to life imprisonment by a military court.
The colonel escaped along with another inmate, an army major, according to a news release issued by the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC (MONUSCO).
“I am appealing to the Congolese officials to take the necessary actions to provide security for the witnesses, lawyers and magistrates who participated in the trial that led to the conviction of the two fugitives, as well as to open judiciary investigations with a view to determining the exact circumstances of the escape and the responsibilities of the suspected accomplices,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of MONUSCO, Martin Kobler.
“I also urge them to take the necessary actions to arrest the escapees,” he said.
MONUSCO said the escape represents “a step backward” in the fight against impunity for the perpetrators of gross human rights violations.
It also voiced concern over the faulty security and surveillance system of the prison, which led to the escape of the two FARDC officers.