Presidential Amnesty order gazetted

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President Emmerson Mnangagwa

Government has gazetted the legal instrument that will see scores of prisoners falling under selected categories being released from correctional facilities.

The development follows the approval of a request to President Mnangagwa which was recently made by the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS).

In a Government gazette’s general notice 695 of 2021, the Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Ms Virginia Mabhiza said President Mnangagwa had signed the clemency order number 1 of 2021 in terms of section 112 (1) (a) (d) of the country’s Constitution.

According to the legal order, all-female prisoners, juveniles under the age of 18 years, prisoners serving effective sentences of 36 months and below, and all prisoners aged 60 years and above except those convicted of specified offences qualify to benefit from the clemency order.

“The prisoners should have served at least one-third of their sentences and in terms of juveniles, age determination will be based on the birth certificate of the concerned prisoner.

“In addition, those inmates with specified medical conditions i.e total blindness and have been terminally ill for a prolonged period without recovery upon certification by a Correctional Medical Officer or a Government Doctor,’’ read the notice.

The amnesty has also been extended to all prisoners serving a term of imprisonment at Open Prison regardless of offences committed.
Under the order, with regards to those inmates serving life sentences, full remission of the sentence will apply to those who have served the life sentences for 15 years.

These include prisoners serving life sentences, those whose sentences were commuted from death to life imprisonment, those whose sentences of life imprisonment were altered on appeal or review.

The 15 years period shall include any period under sentence of death for all categories.

“Additionally, the commutation of death sentences to life imprisonment will be granted to all inmates who have been on death row for at least eight years.

“Prisoners serving effective 36 months imprisonment will be granted quarter remission provided that they are not convicted of a specified offence,” the notice said.

Those inmates who were previously released on amnesty and are back in prison, those serving sentences imposed by a court-martial, record jailbreakers, and any prisoner with a pending criminal appeal have been excluded from the clemency.

According to the Clemency order, murder, treason, rape or any sexual offence, carjacking, robbery, stock theft, public violence, trafficking in persons, and unlawful possession of firearms are regarded as specified crimes.

ZPCS commissioner-general Moses Chihobvu said on Tuesday that the organisation was keen to decongest the correctional facilities to control the spread of Covid-19.

Already, the ZPCS has suspended visits by friends and relatives of inmates to curb the spread of the pandemic in correctional facilities.
In addition, no new clothes are allowed from outside.

Comm-Gen Chihobvu said they have also provided more face masks, sanitisers, hand washing basins, and disinfecting chemicals to prisons.

He said to bolster their capacity, they were also implementing other health safety precautions as prescribed by the Ministry of Health and Child Care.chronicle

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