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Welcome to the GCI Prison Project
One of the biggest human rights issues facing Cameroon today is prisoners’ rights. Accused and convicted inmates of the country’s prisons and police/gendarmerie cells suffer from the numerous life-threatening conditions of these facilities, including insufficient food provisions, inadequate medical attention, overcrowding, and violent and degrading treatment at the hands of guards, police, and other staff members. These conditions are compounded by the degeneration of criminal procedure standards: arbitrary bail, judicial inefficiency, and even administrative errors resulting in lost paperwork and forgotten prisoners.
Resolving these issues has been a priority for GCI since the beginning of the organization, resulting in the formation of the Prisoners’ Rights Project (PRP) in 2008. The PRP aimed to improve prison conditions and protect inmates’ rights by collecting data on incarcerated persons, organizing education and training sessions for prison workers, mobilising and coordinating civil society to support prison communities, and providing legal assistance and representation to indigent detainees and prisoners.
In 2008, GCI launched the first phase of the GCI Prison project. This phase consisted of GCI staff members conducting needs assessment of incarceration facilities and organizing consultative workshops with police/gendarme officers, current and retired prison workers, civil society activists, journalists, clergymen, ex-convicts, etc. to discuss basic standards for incarceration facilities and the treatment of inmates themselves. In August 2008, riots broke out in Kumba’s prisons; GCI followed the development of the riots closely and wrote a detailed report of the abuses that occurred at the hands of security officers attempting to quell the unrest.
In 2009, GCI transferred the Prisoners’ Rights Project to its newly-opened office in Buea, where the PRP met with considerable success in petitioning the release of several inmates who had been lengthily detained while awaiting trial. In general, the Project found that its work were more effective in Buea, where both the law enforcement and the judiciary were more flexible and appreciative of its efforts. Meanwhile, GCI’s Kumba office continued to conduct small initiatives within the project, mostly concerning general prisoners’ rights advocacy.
Despite past misfortunes, major improvements were made in 2011 attracting a new intern eager to proceed with the project. February 2012 marks the beginning of a new chapter for the PRP and its reinstatement. We hope within the coming months, GCI can once again gain prison access and make an impact in improvement of prison conditions and once again provide detainees with much needed access to legal support.
The Global Conscience Prisons Project was conceived due to the horrible conditions of prison facilities in Cameroon and the deplorable and life-threatening conditions of inmates in the prisons. The project takes into consideration conditions in all places of incarceration to include police and gendarmerie cells, prisons, and more especially the situation of inmates in these facilities.
he Project entails the collection of data on persons incarcerated in police/gendarmerie stations and in the Prisons, education and training for prison workers, mobilisation and coordination of civil society support for prison communities, and the provision of legal assistance and representation to indigent detainees and prisoners.
Global Conscience now publishes a regular newsletter, Behind Bars, to inform the general public about situations in prison facilities and on its work on behalf of incarcerated individuals.
The first phase of the GCI Prison project has been the conduction of needs assessment surveys of incarceration facilities and the organisation of consultative workshops with police/gendarme officers, current and retired prison workers, civil society activists, Journalists, clergymen, ex-convicts, etc. to discuss basic standards for incarceration facilities and for the treatment of all persons deprived of their liberty.
Global Conscience hopes to mobilise assistance for the realisation of improved incarceration facilities that meet international expectations, and is already working on a project for a 50-cell prison for two hundred untried prisoners in Kumba.