Prisoners sentenced to death can be assigned to any type of facility. Cameroonian prisons are overcrowded; some have an occupancy rate of more than 600%. At the end of 2016, Kondengui Central Prison in Yaoundé had more than 4,250 people in a space meant for 1,500. In October 2018, Maroua prison surpassed 2,000 prisoners when it had a capacity of 350. This facility holds the highest proportion of people sentenced to death in the country.
By law, prisoners sentenced to death must be separated from other prisoners. This separation is, in practice, not respected due to prison overcrowding. Furthermore, untried and convicted prisoners lived together in all prisons. Some facilities have specific cells for prisoners sentenced to death, who are generally separated from other prisoners during the night. Those under death sentence at Douala and Bafoussam prisons can choose to sleep in either their dedicated units, which are less crowded, or among other prisoners. One prisoner sentenced to death explained that he preferred to be mixed with other prisoners to express his disagreement with his sentence.
Those sentenced to death are subjected to the same living conditions as other prisoners, with a few exceptions. The growing prison population is housed in dilapidated facilities where overcrowding is rife.
Accommodation. The prisoners sentenced to death in Bafoussam live in cells of four square metres. At Maroua prison, between 50 and 60 people are imprisoned in cells of 20 square metres.
Prisoners sleep on planks or boxes used as mattresses. They have to obtain lightbulbs to have light. The facilities flood during the rainy season, and the heat is unbearable during the dry season.
Hygiene. The prison authorities do not provide prisoners with what they need to maintain proper hygiene. There are not enough sanitary facilities. The toilets are outside of the cells. During the night, prisoners have to relieve themselves in buckets which they would empty in the morning. They only got soap and toothbrushes from relatives and humanitarian or religious organisations.
The unit for prisoners sentenced to death at Yaoundé prison is considered to have better sanitary conditions.
Food. In 2017, the administration allocated around $0.51 per day to food for each prisoner. Many prisoners die of malnutrition; meals consist of rice, corn and peanuts. Prisoners do not eat meat, fish, fruits, or vegetables, except on holidays. Everyone relies on their relatives to bring extra food during visits. Those sentenced to death at Yaoundé prison had slightly larger rations than other prisoners.
Activities and work. Like other prisoners, those sentenced to death have access to sports activities and the library, when available. They can weave, make bags or make shoes in order to earn money. Agricultural work, when permitted, provide them with food. In some prisons such as Bafang and Bafoussam, they can benefit from professional training in a workshop.
Discipline. Prisoners sentenced to death are sometimes subject to punishment, such as being placed in a disciplinary cell. They can be confined in these cells for 10 to 15 days, and are sometimes chained and deprived of food. Money is often required to end the disciplinary measures. One of them explained: “Sometimes, they (TN. the guards) are scared of us, because they know that we don’t have any expectations about life anymore.”