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Cameroon’s Government reacts to Prison Riot

The Senior Divisional Officer for Mfoundi, Jean Claude Tsila has blamed Cameroon Renaissance Movement, (CRM) Party militants and supporters of the detained party’s leader, Maurice Kamto, for a riot at a prison in the capital, Yaoundé.

Mr. Tsila, who visited the prison to assess the damage, said that supporters of the opposition leader, Professor Kamto, were the instigators of the violence. He said that prison cells were equally searched for phones and weapons and added that the situation was under control.

Cameroon’s Minister of Communication Rene Emmanuel Sadi, yesterday condemned the mutiny at the central prison. In a communique issued on Tuesday, Mr. Rene Sadi vowed that effective investigation will be made to bring out the truth behind the riots at what is known to be the Cameroon’s largest prison called Kondengui Central Prison.

On Monday Hundreds of inmates staged a riot at Cameroon’s central prison in Yaoundé to demand better conditions. The mutiny by the mainly Anglophone prisoners, captured on Facebook Live, showed buildings set on fire and shots fired as police stormed the prison.

Nearly 600 prisoners – mainly Anglophone political opponents and separatists – took over various wings of Kondengui prison in the Yaoundé capital on Monday morning to protest against their conditions. In a live video on Facebook, the prisoners could be seen venting their anger about the lack of food and water and calling for an end to arbitrary trials and overcrowding.

In Yaounde, Cameroonian security forces restored control after shooting in the air and firing tear gas into the prison. The Anglophone detainees – many of whom have never been taken to court – were moved to different detention facilities.

The prison, constructed in 1969 for 1,500 people, currently has about 9,000 inmates, 90% of whom have not been charged, according to the justice ministry.

A second riot erupted at Cameroon’s central prison in Buea, Southwest region, witnesses said they heard gunfire from the jail throughout the late afternoon. Cameroon’s military came to the scene for backup. Videos circulated on social media platforms show puffs of white smoke billowing in the air and throughout the prison yard.

Amnesty International West and Central Africa Director, Marie-Evelyne Petrus Barry, Tuesday, called on authorities in Cameroon to refrain from using excessive force against prisoners, and to independently and effectively investigate the use of firearms and live ammunition reported during yesterday’s riot.

In 2017 Amnesty International highlighted the overcrowded detention facilities following mass arbitrary arrests in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon.

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