Several prisoners in Cameroon will be released in the days ahead. This is thanks to remission of sentences granted by the head of state.
In the document, President Biya commuted a number of sentences, offering lesser punishment.
Among them are the “death sentence to life imprisonment in favour of persons initially sentenced to death; commutation to 25 (twenty-five) years in favour of persons initially sentenced to death and whose sentence had already been commuted to life imprisonment; commutation to 25 (twenty- five) years in favour of persons initially sentenced to life imprisonment that has not yet been commuted.”
Some eight other sentences were reduced.
“For the application of the remission provided here in above, minors within the meaning of criminal law who have been sentenced shall in addition benefit from one third of the applicable remission” the decision reads.
With the commutation to take effect today, the decision notes a number of exceptions. The provisions of the decree shall not apply to “fugitives at the date of the decree; recidivist offenders; persons imprisoned and sentenced for an offence committed while in detention.”
Those sentenced for other offences such as security of the state, misappropriation of public property, corruption, indulgence, favour, procuring favouritism, undue influence and undue demand, counterfeit notes and a few others have also been left out.
President Biya’s decision comes after several rights groups and press organs called for the release of prisoners as part of measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The President’s action many say is incomplete, as nothing has been done for the thousands held in pretrial detention often in terrible sanitary conditions and overcrowded cells.
Nothing has also been said about journalists detained for their work, despite a call for them to be released from some 81 media, press freedom, and human rights organisations.
Many of these journalists they said “have been held in detention without trial for lengthy periods and are suffering from ill health exacerbated by underlying health conditions and overcrowded prisons, where they have contracted malaria, tuberculosis, and other diseases.”