2 January 2013

Zambia: HRC Laud Sata for Pardoning 59 Female Prisoners

THE Human Rights Commission (HRC) has commended President Michael Sata's move to release 59 female prisoners.

HRC chairperson Pixie Yangailo said in a statement yesterday that the move to release female prisoners at a single occasion was in tandem with her organisation's call to decongest the prisons.

The President pardoned 59 female prisoners country-wide as part of the New Year celebrations. Among them, are 43 inmates with children, four are expectant mothers while 12 are aged above 60 years.

This will result in 50 children leaving jails as they had been incarcerated along with their convicted mothers.

" HRC wants to commend Mr Sata for his decision to pardon 59 female prisoners, the rationale behind this is a way of decongesting prisoners which is in tandem with HRC' long held and regularly promulgated view that prisoners are overcrowded and urgent measures need to be put in place to reverse the trend," she said.

She applauded the President for taking into account the plight of children living with their mothers in prisons.

Ms Yangailo said children who were in prison due to their mother's involvement in crime activities were exposed to physical and mental trial during their stay in prison.

The HRC chairperson said while recognising that crime perpetrators should be punished it was generally acceptable that prison was not the best place for senior citizens hence the reason other forms of punishment should meted out.

She has since urged those pardoned to return President Sata's positive gesture by reintegrating in society and engaging in activities that would equally contribute to national development.

Non-Governmental Organisation Coordinating Council (NGOCC) has also described President Sata's move to pardon female prisoners as 'a special New 2013 Year 'gift to families of former inmates.

NGOCC Chairperson Beatrice Grillo said in an interview yesterday that her organisation was impressed with Mr Sata for pardoning inmates.

"We are grateful with decision by our President because most of these female convicts have babies when they go there and these children grow up there," she said.

Ms Grillo however, appealed to Government to find effective ways of empowering such female prisoners when they are released with finances to enable them start small businesses as they reunite with their families.

She also advised families of former inmates to accept them when released from jail.

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