Republic of Cameroon: Make Human Rights a Reality (Amnesty)

"During visits of New Bell and Kondengui prisons, Amnesty International noted conditions in both prisons which amounted to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. In New Bell, the representatives came across five inmates who had their legs shackled in August 2010. The inmates said that they had been shackled for periods ranging from several weeks to several months. The shackles had been welded together and were permanently fixed to their legs. The shackles had visibly caused lacerations on the legs of the affected detainees. Senior officials at the Ministry of Justice told Amnesty International that they had not authorized this and were not aware of the use of shackles to restrain inmates. Prison authorities told Amnesty International that the inmates had been shackled after they had attempted to escape, which the prisoners denied. Prison officials at Kondengui and New Bell told Amnesty International delegates in December 2012 that shackles continued to be used, particularly against violent inmates or those who attempted to escape. However, use of shackles or leg irons breaches the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which states at Rule 33 that "Instruments of restraint, such as handcuffs, chains, irons and strait-jackets, shall never be applied as a punishment. Furthermore, chains or irons shall not be used as restraints". During their visit of Kondengui prison, Amnesty International found two wings which had particularly harsh conditions and which breached human rights standards. Wing 9 was known to the detainees as "Kosovo" (named after the war there). The wing, with a population of 1,402 in December 2012, consisted of 27 cells which were estimated to be on average approximately 30 square metres. Each cell held an average of 50 inmates. In December 2012, Wing 8 of a similar size as wing 9, had a population of 1.038. Because the cells did not provide enough space for all residents to sleep at the same time, many of the inmates slept in the open space outside the cell without a roof or bedding. This space also served as a kitchen for the inmates. Numerous detainees met by Amnesty International in this wing complained about their detention conditions. In a subsequent meeting with officials at the Ministry of Justice, Amnesty International urged the authorities to improve detention conditions in prison in general and Wing number 9 in particular."
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