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

Daily life

All prisoners are entitled to spend at least one hour a day in the open air


Prisoners have access to an exercise yard. Hours of operation vary from prison to prison.

The prison service offers activities to prisoners

in most establishments

Prisoners have acces to many activities mainly runned by the prisoners themselves.

There are designated places for physical activities and sports


Football matches can be organized in the courtyard.

The authorised activities, by the administration, are organised and runned by the prisoners themselves.

Everyone can have access to activities, Hours of operation vary from prison to prison.

The morning opening hour of the cells is called the “décalage.” It takes place at 9:00 am, except on Mondays because the guards have to do security rounds after the weekend. Prisoners responsible for chores leave their cells before décalage to complete their tasks. All prisoners return to their cell at 4:00 pm. The “sharks” are the prisoners in charge of bringing prisoners in from the exercise yard when they miss roll call.

Work is compulsory


Variation in the number of prisoners who work


Work in prison is possible but not required. Refusal to work is not repressed.

Prisoners work on a voluntary basis for the prison administration, inside or outside the prison (near the prison, as in the case of the prison camp of Bouake). Some prisoners work in the infirmary, the kitchen or the garage, and others do market gardening.

The prison administration organizes job distribution.

Prisoners don’t have the right to an employment contract.

Maximum daily/weekly working hours are set, including at least one day of rest


Labour law does not apply in prison.

Prisoners are paid for their work


Prisoners have the right to join trade unions


Education is available for all prisoners


The legislation allows access to education for all detained persons. But in practice, this right is not respected.

The prison service implements measures to fight illiteracy


There is no real literacy policy in adult prisons.

Prisoners are allowed to pass diplomas and entry examinations


Prisoners have the right to pursue education and take competitive exams.

  • In 2017, a prisoner was granted authorisation to leave the prison to take the BEPC exam, the first level of secondary school exam. However, this is an isolated case.

Vocational training is provided


Training courses such as tailoring, carpentry, mechanics, and basic agriculture are provided in prisons.

Vocational training is available for all prisoners


A building is dedicated to reintegration activities: carpentry, bakery, mechanics and sewing.

Inmates who have the necessary skills are not able to train other inmates.

Prisoners have access to a television


The price to have access to television is at the prisoners own cost.

Prisoners have access to the press


The prison service allows access to Internet


Internet is not available in prison.

The most represented religions in prison are Muslims and Christians.

Prisoners are free to practice their religion and follow their beliefs


Dedicated places of worship are available

in most establishments

There are dedicated places for Muslims and Christians to pray.

There are chaplains in the prisons


The prison service remunerates the chaplains


Individuals or organisations from the outside are allowed to participate in prison activities


The main organisations authorised to enter prison are the followings :

International organisations such as:

  • The European Union
  • The European Development Fund
  • The United Nations Office on Drug and Crime
  • The United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (through to 30 June 2017)
  • The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • French cooperation
  • German cooperation
  • Expertise France

NGOs involved in prison issues like:

  • The Ivoirian Human Rights League
  • The Ivoirian Human Rights Movement
  • The Ivoirian Human Rights Observer and the ACAT (Action by Christians Against Torture) work mainly on pre-trial detention conditions and on prison inspection.
  • The NGO N’gboadô organises restoration work on certain buildings, and concerts inside prisons.

NGOs implicated in humanitarian assistance as:

  • The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) makes regular visits. It distributes cleaning products, agricultural products, directs a nutrition program and makes repairs to infrastructure.
  • Doctors Without Borders and Secours Catholique provide medical consultations at the jail in Abidjan (MACA).
  • Prisoners without Borders support agricultural production, repair buildings and help reduce pre-trial detention.
  • The International Catholic Child Bureau (BICE) builds quarters for minors in some of the jails.

Not all jails are equally supported by these organisations. Efforts are concentrated on the MACA.

Prisoners are allowed to make use of financial resources


Financial resources are accessible

in cash

Most prisoners are indigent. It is not common for cash to circulate in detention.

Some detainees have financial resources from their relatives. This money is kept in savings accounts by the prison administration, which gives it to prisoners whenever they express the need.

Destitute prisoners receive financial or in-kind support


Prisoners may receive material assistance from religious communities.

Prisoners have the right of association


Prisoners have the right to vote