Zimbabwe Releases Prisoners to Reduce Covid-19 Risks in Jail

The Government of Zimbabwe has commenced the release of about 3,000 prisoners under the presidential amnesty aimed at easing congestion to reduce the threat of COVID-19 in the country’s overcrowded jails.

400 prisoners have benefited from the amnesty declared by the President and were released from Chikurubi prison and other jails in the capital, Harare, on Saturday with more coming from other prisons countrywide.

Zimbabwe’s prisons have a capacity of 17,000 prisoners but held about 22,000 before the amnesty declared by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Those convicted of crimes such as murder, treason, human trafficking, and sexual offenses will not benefit. Those to be released are those convicted of non-violent crimes.

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All females imprisoned for non-violent crimes and who served a third of their sentences are to be released also all disabled persons convicted of non-violent crimes.

Mnangagwa also commuted death sentences to life sentences for many prisoners on death row. Zimbabwe still has the death penalty but has not hanged anyone in years.

The commander for prisons in Harare, Alvord Gapare, said the amnesty “will go a long way” to reduce expenditure and the threat of the spread of the virus in prisons,

He disclosed that prisons in the capital had recorded 173 confirmed infections and one death.

According to the Africa Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, Zimbabwe has recorded 37,534 cases of COVID-19, including 1,551 deaths by Apr. 17,

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Authorities have suspended visits to prisons while plans are made to vaccinate inmates as part of measures to combat the spread of the virus.

The country has also canceled the Independence Day celebrations planned for April 18 to combat the spread of COVID-19.

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