Contributor(s)civil society organisations, independent experts


Incarceration rate (per 100,000 inhabitants)



The authorities publish official statistics on prison population


The prison service does not publish statistics on the prison population. Some statistics are available upon request.

Total number of prisoners


/ prison service

This figure corresponds to the number of people held in remand prisons. It does not include untried prisoners held in custody in police stations. As a result, the true size of the prison population is unknown.

Variation in the number of prisoners


latest available data

The number of prisoners increased by 15.2% between 2019 (1,388) and 2022 (1,600).

Number of people serving non-custodial sentences

Data not disclosed

Variation in the incarceration rate


The incarceration rate decreased from 33 in 2013 to 27 in 2019.

Number of admissions

Data not disclosed

Number of releases

Data not disclosed

Average length of imprisonment (in months)

Data not disclosed

Prison density

313 %

The cited prison density is equal to the average occupancy rate at the country’s primary four facilities (the remand prisons in Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, Dolisie and Ouésso). The occupancy rates vary considerably between facilities:

- Brazzaville: 617%

- Pointe-Noire: 608%

- Dolisie: 55%

- Ouésso: 115%1

Overcrowding is an issue for specific types of prison facilities


Overcrowding particularly affects the facilities in the country’s two largest cities, Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire. These remand prisons hold six times more people than their capacity. The increased use of remand detention and the dilapidated condition of the prison estate might be some of the primary causes of overpopulation.1

A supervisory body has issued a decision on prison overcrowding


The United Nations’ Committee against Torture (established by the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment) has issued a statement condemning the overcrowding of Congolese prisons. During the Universal Periodic Review of the Congo in 2018, the Committee recommended that authorities:

- intensify their efforts to reduce prison overcrowding

- give prisons adequate resources to provide healthcare services and ensure that all detainees have access to medical assistance

- provide prisons with adequate resources to eliminate undernourishment

- continue to implement plans to improve and develop the infrastructure of prisons

- provide separate detention facilities for juvenile offenders and women

- set up social reintegration programmes for prisoners.1

  1. Human Rights Council, Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, “Compilation on the Congo: Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights”, August 2018, p. 4 

Name of authority in charge of the prison service

Ministry of Justice, Human Rights and the Promotion of Indigenous Peoples

since 1991

Budget of the prison service

Data not disclosed

Civil society organisations emphasise that the financial crisis has exacerbated the prison service’s budgetary situation, stating that “prisons are running on resourcefulness”. Correctional facilities have difficulty receiving operating funds.1

The prison service outsources the management of the facilities to private companies, either partially or fully


The prison service is structured around a Directorate-General (DGAP). Colonel Jean-Blaise Komo has been head of the DGAP since 2016. The DGAP is divided into six administrative departments and 12 additional departments - one for each département, or region.

The administrative departments are as follows (Order dated 15 September 2011 establishing the remit and organisation of the DGAP’s services and offices, Article 2):

- finance and logistics department

- sentence enforcement department

- remand prison and corrections department

- social reintegration and judicial outreach department

- information technology department

- human resources department

The different prison regimes are (Code of Criminal Procedure, Articles 631 and 632): the closed regime, the semi-custodial regime (prisoners are authorised to work outside of the prison) and work release (monitored by prison authorities).

The legislation provides for four types of closed prison facilities (remand prisons, high-security prisons, detention centres and penitentiary centres) and two types of open facilities (semi-custodial centres and pre-release centres). In practice, however, remand prisons are the only type of prison facility. Remand prisons are defined as “detention centres that hold untried prisoners and sentenced prisoners, pursuant to a legal detention order” (Order establishing the remit and organisation of remand prisons, Article 2). In 2022, there were 17 of these facilities: Brazzaville, Djambala, Dolisie, Ewo, Gamboma, Impfondo, Kindamba, Kinkala, Madingou, Mossaka, Mossendjo, Mouyondzi, Ouésso, Owando, Oyo, Pointe-Noire and Sibiti.

Most of these remand prisons, including the centre in Brazzaville, date to the colonial era. Their facilities were not necessarily constructed for the purpose of holding the prison population. Some are merely repurposed garages.

Police stations also serve as de facto detention centres where many people are held for months while awaiting sentencing. As they are not subject to prison legislation, they are not officially monitored by prison authorities.

Total number of prison facilities


Total official capacity of the prison facilities

Data not disclosed

Since 2010, the government has expressed its desire to modernise the prison system. A renovation and construction programme for prison infrastructure was launched during the implementation period of the National Development Plan 2012-2016. Work began on the Owando correctional centre and on the Mossaka and Ewo remand prisons. The country received support from the European Union for renovation work in the Pointe-Noire and Dolisie remand prisons. However, progress on renovation work had reportedly stalled by 2018.12

The Ministry of Justice, Human Rights and the Promotion of Indigenous Peoples announced on 27 August 2013 that six new remand prisons would be constructed to increase the prison estate’s capacity. One of these planned prisons would have been located in Brazzaville, with a capacity of 1,500 spaces. These construction projects remain unfinished.3

  1. UN Human Rights Council, Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, “Summary of Stakeholders’ submissions on the Republic of Congo”, August 2018, p. 4. 

  2. UN Human Rights Council, Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, “National report submitted in accordance with paragraph 5 of the annex to resolution 16/21 of the Human Rights Council: Congo”, November 2018, p. 14. 

  3. Fédération internationale des ACAT (FIACAT), ACAT Congo, “Contribution of FIACAT and ACAT Congo to the Third Universal Periodic Review of the Congo”, March 2018, p. 10 (in French). 

The capacity of the facilities and the number of people in detention at each facility vary significantly. The country’s largest prisons are: Dolisie (200 spaces, 110 people1), Brazzaville (150 spaces, 925 people), Ouésso (80 spaces, 92 people) and Pointe-Noire (75 spaces, 456 people).2

  1. Statistics as of 14 January 2020 

  2. Fédération internationale des ACAT (FIACAT), “Alternative report of FIACAT and ACAT Congo for the adoption of a list of items to be addressed before presenting the report on the Congo, 129th session”, 8 June 2020, p. 16 (in French). 

The facilities are distributed unevenly across the country, much like its population. The prison population is most heavily concentrated in the two main facilities, located in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire.

Prison facilities are accessible by public transport


The remand prisons of Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire are located in the city centres.

Number of prison guards (FTE)

Data not disclosed

Guard to prisoner ratio

Data not disclosed

Number of socio-educational workers (FTE)

Data not disclosed

Percentage of socio-educational workers in relation to the entire prison staff

Data not disclosed

The legislation provides for a training service for penitentiary staff (Order dated 15 September 2011 establishing the remit and organisation of the DGAP’s services and offices, Article 80).

The content of the training courses is set by the Correctional Code (Articles 40 and 41). All staff members must receive “general and appropriate specialist training that reflects existing best practices based on the observation of facts in the field of correctional science”. These provisions indicate that the prison service must offer training that allows staff members to maintain and improve their professional skills, both upon joining the service and throughout their careers. In accordance with the Correctional Code, the training programme must address, at a minimum, the following topics:

- any applicable national, regional and international regulations

- the rights and responsibilities of prison staff, especially relating to respect for the prisoners’ human dignity, and any prohibited practices, in particular torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment

- safety and security, in particular dynamic security, using force and means of restraint, and managing violent people, as well as prevention and de-escalation techniques such as negotiation and mediation

- first aid, the psychosocial needs of prisoners and dynamics specific to the prison system, protection, and social assistance, especially early detection of health issues.

The Correctional Code also stipulates that staff members in charge of certain populations or in specific roles must receive appropriate training.

In practice, these provisions are not implemented. Security staff is not a specialised corps. It is understaffed and its members are undertrained.

Prison officers come from a wide range of backgrounds: members of the armed forces, police officers and gendarmes, teachers, healthcare workers, and civil servants and government officials. Civil society organisations report that this diversity and the lack of specialisation create inconsistency.1

The prison service enlists military units to offset the shortage of surveillance and security staff.

The International Federation of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (Fédération internationale des ACAT, FIACAT) and ACAT Congo note that security staff “does not have any particular status to account for the difficulties and risks they face while performing their duties.” They also highlight the poor working conditions for staff.1

Civil society organisations report problems related to salary payments (late payment or no payment). They also denounce corrupt practices: guards are reportedly paid by prisoners and their relatives for access to basic equipment and visitation areas.