A Senior Central Africa Researcher at Human Rights Watch, Ilaria Allogrozzi, has said with the outbreak of the COVID-19, Cameroon government should put health of inmates at utmost importance and “release individuals whose pretrial detention is not absolutely justified on public safety grounds and put in place a system for considering early or supervised release for those most at risk, including older people and people with health conditions that makes the virus more dangerous for them, as well as those in custody for minor offenses. Anything less will risk the health – and the lives – of thousands of people.”
While acknowledging some measures put in place in prisons by the Cameroon government, the Researcher noted that they are not enough, “In Cameroon’s prisons, which are notably overcrowded, keeping social distance, practicing self-isolation, and taking basic measures such as hand washing are just not possible. Cameroonian authorities are limiting prison visits and asking visitors to wash their hands. But lawyers and family members of detainees say it’s not enough.” she said in a statement released on the website of HRW.
Ilaria Allegrozzi, revealed that a Cameroonian lawyer who visited that Yaoundé central prison has told her that “In the event of the virus spreading inside the prison, no medical care will be possible. The prisoners are piled on top of each other; it’s impossible to keep any safe distance. This prison is a volcano ready to explode.”