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Lazarus Chakwera pardons 52 inmates

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MHANGO—The number in prisons is higher

President Lazarus Chakwera has granted amnesty to 52 prisoners as part of Easter celebrations, with human rights activists welcoming the pardon with reservations.

Those who committed lesser crimes and offences have benefitted from the Presidential pardon, according to Minister of Home Affairs, Richard Chimwendo Banda.

He also said prisoners who showed signs of reformation and those that behaved well have also been considered.

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“This is a good gesture from the President. It shows that he appreciates that some prisoners are reforming,” Chimwendo Banda said.

He said this gesture would give an opportunity to the pardoned prisoners to go back to society and integrate with the people.

Recently, Chakwera also granted amnesty to prisoners after he got convinced that an exceptional measure of clemency was needed to decongest the overcrowded prisons following the outbreak of Covid-19.

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The country’s prisons recently reported an increase in Covid-19 cases that forced authorities to suspend family visits.

Centre for Human Rights, Education, Advice and Assistance Executive Director, Victor Mhango, who is among rights campaigners, has called for further decongestion of the prisons.

He said Malawi prisons were holding at least 14,000 inmates, which was almost triple the recommended capacity of 5,000 prisoners.

“We are happy that 52 prisoners are out of prison but that is not enough. The number in prisons is higher than it used to be. The prison cells are still congested,” he said.

According to a recent report released by the Malawi Inspectorate of Prisons on Malawi prison and police cells, the holding capacity was found to be overcrowded by 278 percent beyond the designed capacity during the period of inspection of the official capacity.

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