The latest report on the situations in Cameroonian prisons especially concerning the detention of minors indicates that by the end of 2019, there were 911 under-age children held in prisons intended for adults.
In order to ensure the protection of minors, the country’s Ministry of Social Affairs said it would in 2021 launch the Support Project for Inadequate Childhood.
The report by the Ministry of Social Affairs indicates that the Centre region tops the list in the number of detained minors with 221 awaiting trial and 15 already sentenced to prison terms.
These children are held in 10 of the 14prisons in the Centre Region, the report reveals.
The Far North Region comes next with 105 detained minors, 17 of whom have already been handed prison terms while 88 are still awaiting trial.
There are 99 minors held in prisons in the East Region with 81 awaiting trial and 18 already sentenced to prison terms.
Statistics for other regions have not been made available.
The detention of these minors in prisons intended for adults is in gross violation of Article 17 of the African Charter on the Rights and Wellbeing of Children which stipulates that: “The countries party to the present Charter must in particular, ensure that all children accused of having violated penal law receive legal or other appropriate assistance to prepare and present their defence, ensure that the case is as rapidly as possible decided by an impartial tribunal and if found guilty, to have the possibility of appeal to a court of higher instance…”.
In order to remedy the situation and give assistance to the minors in detention, the Ministry of Social Affairs, one of which statutory mission is the social protection of children, is going to implement the Support Project for Inadequate Childhood in 2021.
“The project would benefit minor detainees in prison because, according to the adapted nomenclature in the social dashboard, children in conflict with the law constitute one of the categories of inadequate childhood which calls for special measures of protection,” the Ministry of Social Affairs reveals.
“The Support Project for Inadequate Childhood thus envisages ensuring to all children in conflict with the law in Cameroon, the benefit of protection measures provided for in penal law, in Cameroon penal procedure and within the context of related regulations.”