Over 500 prisoners released following presidential pardon

568 prisoners have been granted a presidential pardon. Their release was officially launched on 23 January in Mpimba prison by the Ministry of Justice.

568 prisoners have been released thanks to the presidential pardon

568 prisoners have been released thanks to the presidential pardon

During the ceremony of releasing the prisoners, Aimée Laurentine Kanyana, Minister of Justice, said the presidential pardon would allow 2500 prisoners to be released and thousands of others whose sentence would be reduced. Among 568 prisoners released from Mpimba prison, 58 were from MSD party, one of the opposition political parties.

Minister Kanyana gave pieces of advice to the released prisoners saying they should help in building the nation and invited them to register at the local administration for recognition. “Go back home and change your ways. Do not commit the same crimes. Instead, join others in preserving peace in the country. The local administration is aware of your release and ready to welcome you home”, she said.

For civilian society and human rights associations, it is a kind of alleviation. “We are pleased by the president’s decision to release political prisoners, we had requested for it and international organizations helped us and they are finally released”, said Jean Baptiste Baribonekeza, President of the National Independent Human Rights Commission-CNIDH.

“We are grateful”

The released prisoners expressed their gratitude: “Some of us had lost all hope. It’s a miracle; we thank his Excellency the president for his pardon and ask him to remember our brothers and sisters left behind”, said their representative.

The freed prisoners were taken back to their native districts by police vehicles. 2500 prisoners (men and women) will be released throughout the country thanks to the presidential pardon. According to the minister, the aim is to give freedom to 60% of prisoners in 2017.

The presidential decree of January 3, grants pardon to prisoners who have already served three-quarters of their sentence and to political prisoners. Most of them were arrested before and during the 2015 crisis.