As part of Easter celebrations, Malawi President Joyce Banda has pardoned 281 prisoners from the country’s 23 crowded prisons.
A statement issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security says the liberated prisoners are those who have served at least half of their sentences, demonstrated good behaviour and were not convicted of serious offences.
The pardon excludes criminals facing serious charges such as rape or sexual offences against young girls, carjacking, armed robbery and murder.
Prisons in Malawi, which hold about 12 000 inmates, almost double their capacity, have been described as hell on earth because of their appalling conditions.
The President, using her powers as stipulated in Section 89 of the Constitution, often grants pardons to inmates as part of Easter and independence celebrations.