By Ebi Kesiena
Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema has pardoned 588 inmates from different Correctional Facilities across the country to celebrate this year’s Christmas Day.
Among those pardoned, 573 are ordinary inmates, 11 are the old aged, one female with a circumstantial child, one lifer commuted to 35 years and two inmates on death row commuted to life.
This is according to a statement issued by Home Affairs and Internal Security Minister Jack Mwiimbu to the Zambia Correctional Service (ZCS) Media Team today in Lusaka.
According to Mwiimbu, the life sentence of an inmate was commuted to 35 years while two inmates on death row had their sentences commuted to life.
Article 97 of the Zambian Constitution confers authority on the president to pardon or substitute punishments imposed on convicted persons.
Mwiimbu said that the pardoned inmates had demonstrated good conduct after undergoing rehabilitation processes that will enable them to integrate well into society.
President Hichilema’s decision was met with praise, particularly from human rights organisations.
Although in May 2023, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa was criticised by rights groups after he paroled thousands of prisoners, including dangerous convicted rapists.
VOA News cited lawyers and rights groups as saying those convicted of rape should not have been released as their offences are classified as “specified,” which do not qualify for presidential pardons.
Mnangagwa granted amnesty to 4270 inmates as part of his effort to decongest the country’s 47 prisons.