Paulin is a 17-year-old boy from Birava-Cishugi, a community in South Kivu. On the 4th of Febuary 2013, an ordinary day at the local water manufacturing factory where Paulin worked, turned into a nightmare that saw him arbitrarily detained for over 3 years.
Then 14 years old, Paulin was approached by a man selling boots. Buying a pair for 80 cents, Paulin was soon after approached by another man on the street who said those boots belonged to him. The man’s mother, who testified that the newly-bought boots were indeed her son’s, called police officers to arrest Paulin for burglary.
Despite being unaware that the goods he bought were stolen, Paulin continues to languish in prison. No lawyer assisted him at his trial, since he did not have the financial resources to pay for one.
He has today been in Bukavu Central Prison for 3 years and 6 months. Not only is the length of time he has been detained for grossly disproportionate to the petty crime he is accused of, it is also a time which spans his most formative years. Imprisoned from the age of 14 to 17, being denied access to justice has impacted his education, his links to the community, and his physical and psychological wellbeing.
Now, however, we have a chance to change Paulin’s life. International Bridges to Justice has since the beginning of August been providing Paulin with pro-bono legal assistance. However, for our volunteer lawyers to continue their work and get Paulin released from horrific prison conditions, we urgently need your help.
Sadly, Paulin is not the only victim of a justice system that does not work. Over 1,000 other people in Bukavu Central Prison are in the same situation, facing long delays and without lawyers to represent them. IBJ, from its office in Bukavu, is trying to ensure that as many women, men, and children as possible are protected from arbitrary detention and abuse.
Donate today on JustGiving to help Paulin. Your small contribution will help IBJ ensure that every woman, man and child is protected from arbitrary detention and abuse.