Contributor(s)Observatoire ivoirien des droits de l'homme / Frédéric Le Marcis / Prison Insider


All inmates are admitted to prison with a valid commitment order


Cases of arbitrary detention are more often linked to judicial dysfunction: poor organisation in the judicial system, slow processing of files by the judge’s chambers, lost files.

All institutions are organized in the same way in buildings and prisoners are generally assigned to them according to whether they are accused, prisoners of common rights, political prisoners, women or minors.

In the Abidjan detention and correction centre, for example, newcomers undergo a practice called “good arrival”: they are beaten and stripped naked, and subjected to internal and external searches. They are placed, for their first night, naked in a collective cell. They have to pay for a better cell.

The admission staff is not trained to recognise warning signs among prisoners who may inflict self-harm or harm other prisoners.

Following the “Battle of Abidjan” in March-April 2011, former prisoners became guards, thus promoting some knowledge of the terrain and other prisoners considered as dangerous.

Prisoners can be assisted by a lawyer throughout their incarceration


The penal code provides for a system of judicial assistance for people unable to pay for a lawyer (article 27-31).

Most prisoners are illiterate and often not well-informed of the judicial treatment of their case. Some of them have a lawyer who comes to prison regularly to meet their clients in the parlours.

Deaths in custody are logged in a register


Number of deaths in custody


The total number of people who died in detention in 2016 is not reported. Thirty-five prisoners died in 2016 at the jail in Abidjan jail. Among the causes of death are HIV/AIDS (4 people in prison), high blood pressure (2 people in prison), tuberculosis (1 person in prison), mental disorders (3 people in prison). For 7 people detained, the causes of death are not reported. One third of the deaths are due to malnutrition (9 detainees). Another third of the deaths are the result of “traumas,” according to the medical reports. This raises the possibility that they are caused by violence and mistreatment, though it is not clear if the perpetrators of such acts are prison personnel or prisoners

  • Thirty-five prisoners died in 2016 at the jail in Abidjan. Eleven people died at MACA during a mutiny on 20 February 2016. The victims include one prison guard and ten prisoners, one of them the well-known Yacouba Coulibaly, also known as “Yacou the Chinese”. Jean Kouachi (former Minister of Defense), sergeant-at-arms, who is incarcerated at MACA, dies following an illness contracted during his imprisonment.

The prohibition of torture is enshrined in the Constitution and the legislation


Torture is not defined or criminalised in the penal code.

Local organisations like the Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT) are urging Ivory Coast to ratify the Optional Protocol of the Convention against Torture (OPCAT).

The United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT) was

ratified (1995)

All allegations and suspicions of ill-treatment inflicted on prisoners are logged


Local NGOs such as l’Observatoire ivoirien des droits de l’homme (OIDH) and the Ivoirian branch of ACAT denounce cases of mistreatment and torture.

The authors of such acts are identified but not systematically sanctioned.

Abuse of prisoners is most often punishment, blackmail or hazing rituals for newcomers. Abuse can also take the form of beatings and sexual violence. Cases of abusive transfers of detainees, sometimes without the knowledge of judges and lawyers, are reported.

  • The Committee against Torture notes, in April 2015, inadequate and unsatisfactory conditions of detention in prisons and cases of torture and ill-treatment.

Detainees have the opportunity to file a complaint against the prison administration.

Prisoners can make complaints trough their lawyer.

The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) was

neither signed nor ratified

The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) is not ratified by Ivory Coast. ACAT in Ivory Coast and its partners such as the Ivorian Observatory for Human Rights are advocating, raising awareness and conducting training to precipitate its ratification.

An NPM has been established


An international regional body monitors the places of deprivation of liberty


The Special Rapporteur on Prisons, Conditions of Detention and Police Action in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

Its reports are made public


The National Human Rights Commission of Côte d’Ivoire (CNDHCI) visits the country’s prisons and publishes reports every year. Its ultimate objective is to become a mechanism for the prevention of torture1.

The General Inspectorate of Judicial and Penitentiary Services, although existing, is not functional.

  1. International Federation of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (FIACAT) and ACAT Côte d’Ivoire, Report on the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights with a view to the adoption of the list of issues by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, July 2014 

The law provides for a sentence adjustment system


Several forms of sentence reduction exist: amnesty, presidential pardon, conditional release and early release.

The granting of a sentence adjustment falls within the competence of the President of the Republic but also that of the sentencing judges, who enjoy a certain amount of discretionary power in adjusting sentences.

Sentence adjustments can be granted during the incarceration


Measures are applied according to the offence, the sentence imposed and the behaviour of the persons detained

Number of prisoners who have been granted a presidential pardon or amnesty during the year