Chad’s appalling jail conditions

Chad’s prisons are severely overcrowded, detention conditions are inhuman and female inmates are exposed to rape, Amnesty International says in a damning report released on September 10th.

Picture credit: Tim Pearce

“We Are All Dying Here” gives details of conditions of severe overcrowding, with food and water that is unfit for consumption and sometimes lacking, and terrible human rights violations. Between 2011 and 2012 Amnesty collected details on the whole prison network in the impoverished country and visited six jails.

At the end of January 2012, 45 jails were home to 4,831 prisoners in conditions of severe overcrowding, held in facilities packed up to five times beyond capacity.

The report detailed “incidents in the last 12 months that include nine deaths caused by asphyxiation, five by severe dehydration and seven deaths following shootings by prison guards.”

The temperature in Chad’s unventilated prison cells could reach 48 degrees Celsius. Children, including young girls, were detained with adults. Most prisoners had yet to come to trial and some had been awaiting their court appearance for several years. Women and children were at particular risk, the report said.

There was almost no access to medical care, some prisoners were chained for 24 hours a day for months and detainees had no means of countering abuse inflicted on them by the prison staff or fellow detainees, who often belonged to gangs that were in control of the jail, the report discovered.

“Chad has been engaged in reform of the prison sector for many years but there is little visible improvement. The prison system in Chad is lacking even the most basic elements that enable inmates to maintain some dignity,” said Christian Mukosa, Amnesty’s Chad researcher.

It called on the government to ensure conditions were in line with its own legislation and with international standards. “The government must request assistance from the donor community to help with prison sector reform in order that they can allocate adequate human, financial and technical resources to improve the appalling conditions that currently prevail,” the report recommended.

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