Republic of Congo: starting from scratch

Bridging the legal gap: the first step towards improving life in custody?

Congolese prison authorities face many challenges in ensuring that the dignity of prisoners is respected: severe overcrowding, dilapidated facilities, tight budgets, and lack of training for security staff. Until recently, life in detention was governed by very old texts, with no dedicated legal framework. The country’s authorities are in the process of revising the country’s various legal codes. A new Penitentiary Code came into force in April 2022, with various national and international stakeholders having worked together to draft it.

Paul Mbanzoulou is the Director of Research, Documentation and International Relations at the French National School of Penitentiary Administration (ENAP). He is an international expert and was the penal mediator for the public prosecutor and associate lecturer at the University of Pau and the ’Adour Region from 2000 to 2006, before joining ENAP as a Professor and Researcher. From 2015 to 2016, he undertook an expert mission to draft the Penitentiary Code of the Republic of Congo. Prison Insider asked him three questions.

The absence of a source text was a challenge, but it left room for a creative approach.

There was a desire to modernise the administration, and this code became the means to that end.

There's a real challenge in training officers to become specialised prison staff.