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

Special populations

Number and percentage of female prisoners

2.1 % (285)
/ Department of penitentiary administration

Women are incarcerated in dedicated districts.

At the jail in Abidjan, building F, which is reserved for women, has a particular layout. The ground floor includes a nursery and three bedrooms: one for pregnant women, mothers with and their child, and minors.

There is an effective separation between men and women


Women are not detained in specific institutions. Still, they are housed in separate quarters from men.

Untried female prisoners are separated from the convicted


Pretrial and sentenced women share the same cells1.

  1. Interview de Paul Angaman, président de l’ACAT Côte d’Ivoire, par César DjeDje Mel, Linfodrome, 24 March 2016 – following visits to the country’s 33 prisons. 

The prison staff is

exclusively female

The specific needs of woman detainees are taken into account, especially in the area of hygiene and gynecological care.

Women are subject to the same detention regime as men, in particular for access to activities and training. They therefore have access, like the other prisoners, to the courtyard. Fun activities are regularly organized and led by the detainees themselves. A building is dedicated to reintegration activities such as baking, sewing… Work in prison is possible for them but not compulsory. As for training, in theory, women prisoners have the right to take training and competitions.

Conjugal visits are allowed for women


Women have no right to conjugal visits. They only have the right to supervised visits.

Pregnant women are housed in specific units or cells

in some establishments

One room is reserved for pregnant women at the jail in Abidjan.

Pregnant women receive proper prenatal care


Pregnant women receive appropriate medical treatment. They are under the care of midwives during pregnancy.

Childbirth takes place in

outside care facilities

Mothers are allowed to keep their children with them

yes, until 2 years old

Children can remain with the detained mother until the age of two, according to a 1969 governmental decree.

The prison administration does not absorb the cost of children’s care.

The law bans the imprisonment of minors


The age of penal responsibility is set at 10 years of age.

Minimum age of juvenile incarceration

13 years old

Incarcerated minors

2.2 % (297)

In June 2017, girls accounted 6,8% of incarcerated minors.

/ Department of penitentiary administration

Ministry in charge of juvenile offenders

The Department of Judicial Protection of Children and Youth (DPJEJ)

Minors are treated to the same detention regime as adults, the only difference being the presence of a corps of teachers who specialise in working with youth.

The penalties provided by law are generally custodial sentences, with the presence of specialized educators assigned to the supervision of young people.

Minors are held in observation centres for minors and in a rehabilitation centre, located in Dabou and into which ,minors belonging to gangs are sent.

Juvenile prisoners are separated from adults

in some establishments

Boys are housed separately from adults. Illicit drugs circulate between the quarters for adults and for minors. Minors sometimes sneak into adult quarters and view the adults as models for their own behaviour. Also, in the observation centres for minors, Minors who have been charged with serious crimes are assigned to adult buildings B and C. As for detained girls, they sleep in the women’s quarters.

The schooling of minors is compulsory


Minors do not attend school, except in exceptional cases. They are then allowed to take the national examinations.

Literacy centres are present in juvenile institutions. Social workers work jointly with specialized educators in literacy and resocialization of minors.

The Dabou Rehabilitation Centre receives minors. They are trained for trades such as sewing, mechanics, or carpentry, and can take courses for first responder training and civic education.

Specialized educators are assigned to supervise young people in prisons.

The nationalities most highly represented in the prisons are Burkina, Malian, and Guinean

Foreign prisoners are informed of their right to communicate with their consular representatives


Foreigners can, in theory, contact their consulates.

Foreign prisoners can be assisted by an interpreter

in some cases

Foreigners must be provided with the assistance of an interpreter.

In practice, only Chinese citizens are provided with an interpreter.

Foreign prisoners are entitled to legal aid


Foreign prisoners are allowed to work while incarcerated


The detention regime for foreign nationals is similar to that of Ivoirian nationals (access to media and visitation rights, for example).

There are specific prison facilities for long-term prisoners


the Bouake prison camp

Life sentences are banned


The life sentence is included in the Criminal Code. It replaces the death penalty.

Life sentence can be applied to the following crimes: war crimes, crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, assassination, patricide, poisoning, aggravated theft, threat to national security, forgery and illegal use of official seals and public effects: official stamps, punches, hallmarks, etc.

There are specific prison facilities for life-sentenced prisoners


the Bouaké penal camp

A prisoner charged to life sentence could benefit a conditional release after serving twenty years in prison.

The life sentence does not apply to minors. The maximum penalty may be applied to them according to the seriousness of the offence committed, i.e. a ten-year sentence.

40.7 %

/ Department of penitentiary administration

The legal time limit for pre-trial detention varies according to the offence. It is usually three months, with an additional three months on the judge’s justification. The prisoner must then be released if he is not convicted.

Cases of pre-trial detention without a warrant of arrest are reported. These detainees are held in the judicial police services or in detention and correction centres. The reality varies according to the means at the disposal of the incarcerated person. In practice, detainees can be held for periods ranging from several weeks to several years.

The prosecution or imprisonment of a person on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity is banned


LGBTI persons are separated from other prisoners


The administration does not provide special protection for LGBTI prisoners. They are stigmatised, isolated and seen as pariahs.

Transgender prisoners benefit from specific health care


Elderly prisoners do not receive specific care Their detention regime does not take into account their specific needs. Prison staff are not trained to take care of them.

Prison facilities are adapted to the needs of prisoners with disabilities


Death penalty is abolished

yes, since 2015

The death penalty is abolished by the Constitution on 1 August 2000, but it continues to appear in the penal code. The National Assembly of Ivory Coast voted, on Tuesday 10 March 2015, to abolish the death penalty permanently in the legal code. The death penalty is repealed by law no. 2015-134 of 9/3/2015.

Life imprisonment replaces the death penalty in the legal code 1.