President Peter Mutharika has pardoned 283 prisoners from the country’s overcrowded prisons as part of Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security said in a brief statement yesterday the pardoned inmates are those that were serving sentences for minor offences and have demonstrated good behavioural reform or are chronically ill.
“The pardon of the 283 prisoners by His Excellency the President is a symbol of forgiveness during this year’s christmas celebrations,” reads the statement signed by Samuel Madula, Principal Secretary for Home Affairs and Internal Security.
The President, using his powers as stipulated in Section 89, subsection 2 of the Constitution, pardons inmates during major celebrations such as Independence Day (July 6), Christmas and Easter.
But reacting to the pardon, Centre for Human Rights Education, Advocacy and Advice (Chreaa) executive director Victor Mhango said they expected the President to release more prisoners considering the accommodation situation in the country’s prisons.
During the 2016 Christmas festivity, Mutharika pardoned 644 prisoners and during last year’s Independence celebrations 378 prisoners walked to freedom.
There are about 14 000 prisoners in the country’s 31 prisons which were designed to keep about 5 000 inmates.