Prison Care and Counselling Association (PRISCA) has commended President Edgar Lungu for pardoning 2,984 inmates in commemorating Africa Freedom Day which falls on 25th May 2020.
Of those pardoned, 55 are aged, 11 were released on compassionate release, three medical cases, 9 HEPs and 12 foreign nationals. 155 of the total number accounted for women while 2,829 are men.
According to Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo, this brings down the prison population which was standing at over 22,000 to 19,248.
President Lungu pardoned 2,182 inmates last year in commemoration of Africa freedom day and a total of 3,430 inmates in the year 2018.
PRISCAA director Dr Godfrey Malembeka said it is humbling that the current Government has continued treating prisoners with the dignity that they deserve.
“We have noted with gladness that of those that have been pardoned are vulnerable inmates such as the aged, the sick and those held under His Excellency’s Pleasure (HEPs).
Dr Malembeka further said he is also elated to learn that bail conditions have been relaxed and over 2,700 persons have been granted unconditional bail saying this is a step in the right direction if we are to decongest our correctional facilities in Zambia especially during this period of the Coronavirus.
He also thanked the Ministry of Home Affairs and Zambia Correctional Service for their hard work in assessing the beneficiaries of the presidential prerogative of mercy, parole and compassionate release adding that these exits have continued decongesting our highly congested correctional facilities in Zambia.
“We appeal to members of the general public to accept ex-prisoners back into society and help them with basic needs where necessary. Prisoners have been released at a time when they may need warm clothing and blankets and we appeal to well-wishers to come to their aid. We also appeal to traditional leaders, Members of Parliament and churches to also raise to the occasion and help our brothers and sisters that have been pardoned. By doing so, we are completing the cycle of rehabilitation” Dr Malembeka urged.
To those who have been released, Dr Malembeka urged them to demonstrate high levels of discipline, be law abiding and prove to society that they have really reformed as this will encourage the President to continue extending an olive branch to their friends that are still held in correctional facilities around the country and will also build confidence in the general public that prisoners are truly being reformed.