Deplorable living conditions for prisoners in Africa

publicerad 21 september 2017
- Lilian Neg
Douala Central Prison - Foto: Moki Edwin Kindzeka,
Prisoners in Africa, Douala Central Prison - Foto: Moki Edwin Kindzeka,
Douala Central Prison – Foto: Moki Edwin Kindzeka,
Lilian Neg - Dec 16 2015 Bamenda Cameroon - Photo:
Lilian Neg – Photo:

PRISONERS IN AFRICA. Prison, mostly considered as a place where people of all origin that have committed illegal acts punishable by laws and regulations are detained, is unfortunately becoming an environment where minor delinquency people are converted to criminals at the end of their stay. What could justify this transformation? Lilian Neg reports for NewsVoice from Cameroon.

By Lilian Neg, Africa-Cameroon correspondent | Contact Lillian: for book and lecture inquiries

Constructed to lodge eight hundred people, African prisons in general lodge more than 3500 people without distinction of sex and age. This statistic was viewed at Douala Central Prison where women, children and men cohabitate. The health situation is deplorable, people die every day because the contracted illness (tuberculoses, malaria, and cholera) considered as current cases.

During my visit at the Douala New Bell Central Prison, I found very sad situations: Prisoners are constantly waiting for their judgment, some have made more than 18 months in detention, while the law demands six months renewable. They are victims of systematic adjournment.

The numerous cases do not facilitate rapid legal procedure. Mohammed a teenager rather told me that, he was jailed because he fought with a boy and since one year he has not been judged. This is the reason why people can be condemned with heavier sanctions meanwhile the judgment for the offense committed could have been less.

In spite of this, there is no distinction between prisoners in African prisons. There is a legitimate proximity among prisoners. Those condemn for death sentence are close to minor delinquent. How can we justify this fact? A minor delinquent close to someone jailed for murder is unbearable.

The real problem of prisons in Africa is due to its overcrowded nature and the mismanagement. Is it not appropriate to build prisons in conformity with International standard of human rights?

The violation of Human Rights

In African prisons, human rights are not respected. The conditions of detention are unacceptable, foods are of bad quality, prisoners eat once per day, at times there is no food. Prisoners have diarrhea; the water system is poor and disgusting for people who are already threatened by epidemics. Each year, victims of cholera die in numbers. Some prisoners sleep on the prison yard during the dry season meanwhile during the raining season they sleep in tents.

War prisoners in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central Africa also endure the same situation. They receive inhuman and downgrading treatments. They are victims of rape, torture and at times murder.

A good number of them are in Kivu, Kinshasa (Congo) and Bangui (Central Africa), towns that constantly have attacks. Child soldiers are captured and tortured the same way like mature soldiers. The living conditions in these houses of arrest is miserable and extremely harsh.

During the recent civil war in Central Africa between the anti balaka and seleka, many people were captured and they faced all kinds of physical torture.

Also in Libya, sub-Saharan Africans are jailed and maltreated because they wanted to illegally migrate to Europe through the Libyan coast. They are treated like slaves, packed in secret rooms and only come out scarcely for forced labour. They have been used as suicide bombers across the world.

Conditions for prisoners in Africa must improve

African Governments and Institutions have to put an end to these severe human malpractices and disgrace. The Africa Union Human Rights Commission has to create a platform in order to improve the living conditions for African prisoners.

Besides the Human Rights declarations and the conventions that was signed by the majority of nations, the International community do not really sanction countries that fail to respect Human Rights. African Governments rather need to construct new and huge prisons in order to improve the living conditions for prisoners.

By Lilian Neg, Africa-Cameroon correspondent | Contact Lillian: for book and lecture inquiries


Voa News: Rights Groups Decry Decrepit Conditions in Cameroon Prisons

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  • Vi lever alla på denna planet som har ett formidabelt överskott på både pengar, makt och föda och ändå klarar vi inte att ge alla acceptabla minimistandard.
    Någonting måste vara allvarligt fel med hur regeringar och FN styrs för att dessa förhållanden skall kunna fortgå.

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