The Presidential Amnesty is a pardon given by the ruling presdent to prisoners under the Clemency Order Number 1 of 2014. The pardon is granted pursuant of Section 112 (1) (a) of the Zimbabwean Constitution. Under the new constitution, the first pardon was granted by President Robert Mugabe in February 2014. This saw more than 3000 inmates getting back their freedom.
The amnesty is granted to females and juveniles. Nearly 10% of the country's prison population from the country's 42 prisons was freed. These includes:
- The female prisoners were freed regardless of the offence committed save for those sentenced to life imprisonment and to death.
- All juvenile prisoners under the age of 18 serving terms of imprisonment, irrespective of the offences committed.
- Prisoners sentenced to imprisonment for a period of 36 months and below and who would have served a quarter of their sentences
- All terminally-ill prisoners who are unlikely to survive their prison terms irrespective of the offences they committed.
- All prisoners aged 70 and above as at 30 June 2013, regardless of the offence committed, save for those sentenced to death.
The amnesty is also granted to ease congestion at the prisons. As of the granting of the pardon in 2014, the country’s 42 prisons had 18 500 inmates exceeding its carrying capacity of 13 000. This overcrowding then leads to food shortages that and subsequently death. An estimated 100 prisoners die in Zimbabwe prisons every month due to various illnesses related to overcrowding and malnutrition.
Back in Prison
Barely three months after the amnesty 62 of the freed prisoners were back in jail facing new criminal charges. 43 of the re-arrested had by May convicted and jailed after committing more crimes, while 19 others were still in remand prison pending finalisation of their cases. 10 of those rearrested were women. One lawyer, Advocate Thembinkosi Magwaliba attributed this to lack of rehabilitation and reformation at the prisons.
- Lloyd Mbiba, President pardons prisoners, 'DailyNews', Published: 16 Feb 2014, Retrieved: 20 May 2014
- Zimbabwe to release 3000 prisoners on presidential parole (Amnesty), 'Bulawayo 24', Published: 25 Dec 2013, Retrieved: 20 May 2014
- Nyemudzai Kakore and Daniel Nemukuyu, 62 Presidential amnesty beneficiaries jailed, 'Herald', Published: 19 May 2014, Retrieved: 20 May 2014