THE Human Rights Commission (HRC) has commended President Sata for pardoning 500 prisoners serving sentences for various offences.
The release of the prisoners was part of Zambia’s commemoration of its 49th independence anniversary last Thursday.
In response to a press query, HRC director Florence Chibwesha said Mr Sata should be commended for his decision, which will help decongest prisons.
“President Sata’s gesture to release 500 prisoners during the Independence Day celebrations should be applauded. This will help to decongest the overcrowded prisons across the country,” Ms Chibwesha said.
She said HRC has continued to advocate a solution to decongest prisons and that the pardoning of 500 prisoners is a milestone in resolving the problem.
Ms Chibwesha said congestion in prisons is a violation of the rights of the inmates.
She also said it is difficult to rehabilitate inmates in congested prisons and that Government spends huge sums of money to take care of the inmates.
Ms Chibwesha said inmates with bailable offences should be granted the conditional release.
She also said those convicted of minor offences should be sentenced to community service to decongest the prisons.
Ms Chibwesha said HRC is aware that Government is building more prisons and expanding existing infrastructure as a way of decongesting prisons.
President Sata has pardoned 500 prisoners serving sentences for various offences to mark Zambia’s 49 years of independence.
According to a 2013 Remission of Sentences Order published in the Government Gazette number 6241 dated October 22, 2013, President Sata ordered that the 500 prisoners be released from prison immediately.
“It is hereby notified for public information that His Excellency the President has, in exercise of the powers vested in him by Article 59 (d) of the Constitution of Zambia, ordered that the said prisoners in schedule hereto be released from prison forthwith,” the Government Gazette reads in part.
The pardoned prisoners are from various prisons in all the 10 provinces of the country.
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