Exclusive: Prisoner films life within an isolation cell in Cameroon

Our Observer sent us photos and videos from the main prison in the Cameroonian capital.
Our Observer sent us photos and videos from the main prison in the Cameroonian capital.


An inmate in the main prison in Yaoundé, Cameroon made a short video of the isolation cell where he was imprisoned for 40 days, before being released in November 2017. This rare glimpse into the horrible conditions reveals a room with no bed, no windows and no toilet, where the inmate fell gravely ill.

Our Observer, a Cameroonian man sentenced to about 10 years in prison for arms possession, managed to secretly film the isolation cell where he was being held. To do so, he was helped by other inmates who were staying in the normal prison quarters. The cell where he was kept is reserved for prisoners who are being punished by prison authorities for an infraction.

Our Observer sent us a 30-second video, in which he gives us a tour of his cell, which measures about six square metres. There is no bed or mattress.

I was forced to remain in this cell after being wrongly accused of starting a fight within the prison. I found myself doomed to hunger, thirst and lack of basic medical care. I live in filth and darkness and I have trouble breathing. I am in a tiny cell, condemned to living a life in slow motion.

The door of the cell where our Observer is trapped. (Photo sent to the Observers Team by another inmate.)


With my unsteady feet and my tears, I want to reveal what it's like in here and show the world. The saddest and most unjust part of it all is that rich and powerful prisoners – former ministers, for example – never experience this kind of punishment. They live in their own separate quarters, where they enjoy all kinds of privileges.

>> READ ON THE OBSERVERS: Exclusive: Cameroonian prisoners smuggle out footage of horrific jail conditions

Our Observer says that he was able to leave the isolation cell for 24 hours at the end of November in order to receive medical care after he started suffering from heart palpitations. He blames his deteriorating health on the fact that he spent six weeks sleeping on the ground.

Yaoundé’s main prison was built in 1968 to house up to 1,000 inmates. Today, there are more than 5,000 inmates, according to our Observer Gustave, who shared his story in our previous article about the Yaoundé prison, one of Cameroon’s most overcrowded prisons. The last official figures, which were published by the Ministry of Justice in 2015, said there were 4,234 inmates in that prison.