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.