DIRECTOR of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Biswalo Mganga has directed the immediate release of 52 inmates with pending criminal cases.
He issued the directive on Thursday after visiting Bukoba Prison where he addressed inmates and heard of their desperate plight.
DPP is appointed pursuant to sub-article (I) of Article 59B of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania and is the head of operations in relation to prosecutions and coordination of investigation duties conducted by investigative organs.
DPP is mandated to regularly visit places where inmates are kept such as prisons, police cells and remand homes for purposes connected to the administration of criminal justice.
Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Constitutional and Legal Affairs Amon Mpanju, who accompanied the DPP, said the visit aimed at speeding up access to justice for inmates with pending cases.
President John Magufuli changed the death sentences of 256 convicts on death row during celebrations to mark the 59th anniversary of Independence.
The Head of State further reduced sentences of 3,316 inmates convicted of various offences. He directed relevant authorities to start releasing the pardoned prisoners the following day.
"Most prisoners were serving jail terms for minor offences such as chicken theft, using abusive language against others, failure to hire good advocates and failure to pay fines," he said.
The President warned the pardoned inmates against committing crimes as that would land them in jail again.
Kagera Regional Prisons Officer (RPO) Assistant Commissioner (ACP) Samuel Mwakatika told the 'Daily News' that 288 inmates had benefited from the presidential pardon.
Out of the number, 236 inmates had their sentences been reduced, while 52 others were released yesterday.
Beneficiaries include prisoners serving jail terms between one day and one year as well as those sentenced to serve many years, but had no more than one year left to complete their prison terms.
Mr Mwakatika said it was pleasing that the government was looking into a possibility of constructing new prisons and court buildings in the country. Steps are being taken to employ more judges and magistrates.
The upshot, the government says, is to de-congest some of the most populated penitentiaries. He appealed to village leaders and members of the community to welcome the released inmates and assist them to start a new life.
Meanwhile, Bukoba High Court Judge in-charge Lucia Gamuya has appealed to residents to utilise Law Week which starts on January 23 to February 1.
"People should utilise Law Week to get basic knowledge on court proceedings. This will minimise complaints arising from ignorance of the law," she said.