The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet has enjoined government’s across the world to consider the lives of their citizens inside detention facilities as they engage in the fight against Corona Virus.
Overcrowded areas are suitable centers for the transmission and infection of Covid-19.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, most detention facilities, (Prisons, jails, immigration cells, residential health care homes and psychiatric hospitals) across the world are overcrowded.
In Cameroon, the major prisons for instance are presently hosting more than twice their initial number of detainees.
This is a perfect example of the situation that Madam Bachelet is decrying when she declared on Wednesday March 25, 2020 that countries must protect people in detention from Covid-19 by releasing vulnerable prisoners and other form of detainees.
Detention centres according to the UN scribe need special measures from governments in the fight against Covid-19.
Since Cameroon launched her Corona response plan with 13 points measures instructed by the President of the Republic Paul Biya, no special attention has been given to those in prisons despite proposals from some civil society organizations and personalities.
It remains unclear if the government of Cameroon would heed to the call from Michelle Bachelet to slow the spread of the pandemic by releasing Vulnerable Prisoners.
By Vulnerable prisoners, the UN refers to older detainees, those sick as well as low risk offenders.
Covid-19 it Should be noted has found favourable grounds on patients and the elderly.
At the Yaounde Central Prison, Kondengui, amongst the vulnerable prisoners is a journalist whose health condition keeps deteriorating as days pass by.
Awah Thomas Junior was arrested and detained three years ago and is presently serving a 13 years jail term under deplorable conditions.
Conditions decried by Madam Bachelet who says unhygienic conditions are breeding grounds for the transmission of Covid-19.
Like Awah, many other journalists are behind bars in Cameroon’s detention facilities under uncertain circumstances like Samuel Wazizi, Buea based pidgin news caster detained for months now in a yet to be publicly disclosed facility with many questioning if he is still alive or not.
Even before the official call from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, some Nations had started liberating their prisoners to decongest detention facilities and set up isolation centers just in case an inmate is attained by the infection, and as visits are permitted in such centers.
Iran was the first country to set free over 85.000 detainees with plans to free more as the situation unfolds.
Germany, Canada and the United States of America are equally In the process to free thousands of prisoners amongst whom sex offenders.
In Africa, Sudan has announced it will be liberating inmates as part of a response to the pandermic.
However, it is worth noting that the idea to free up detention facilities should be followed by mechanism to monitor the inmates out of jail in order not to jeopardize the smooth functioning of societies.