President John Magufuli yesterday pardoned 2,219 prisoners on the occasion of the 53rd Anniversary of the Union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar, marked at national level at the Jamhuri Stadium in the designated capital of Dodoma. Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Maj. Gen.
Projest Rwegasira, said in a statement yesterday that the pardon was in line with powers vested on the president through Article 45 (1) (d) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania.
“The government hopes that the freed prisoners will return to the community and work with other citizens to build the nation and that they will avoid committing crimes that will send them back to incarceration,” the PS remarked in the statement.
Prisoners to benefit from the amnesty are those suffering from cancer, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS and whose conditions are in terminal stage; these will have to be verified by a panel of medical doctors to be chaired either by district or regional medical officers.
Elderly people at 70 years of age and above are also eligible for the pardon, but their age will have be confirmed by a panel of medical doctors to be chaired by either DCO or RCO, the statement explained.
Another group involved those who after the normal reduction of a third of their sentences provided under Section 49 (1) of the Prisons Act Chapter 58, should have served at least a half of their remaining time, save for those mentioned in Article 2 (i-xxi).
Female convicts who were imprisoned while pregnant, lactating or with children have also been enjoined in this ‘presidential mercy’ by Dr Magufuli – whose amnesty also extends to prisoners with mental and physical disabilities - but who will be subjected to medical examinations by doctors as indicated in such other groups above. However, condemned convicts or whose sentences were reduced to life imprisonment and those serving life in jail will not be covered under this pardon.
The same applies to prisoners who were convicted for trafficking narcotics, corruption and robbery with violence in addition to armed robbery and attempt robbery.
According to the statement, Maj. Gen. Rwegasira mentioned the other group not eligible for freedom as the ones convicted on charges related to possession of firearms, ammunitions and explosives. The statement went on to cite the other prisoners not eligible for the pardon as rapists, defilers and those who attempted such crimes or sexual assault.
“Convicts who were imprisoned for impregnating girls in primary and secondary schools and who committed such crimes at the age of 18 and above will not be freed in the announced amnesty,” the statement explained.
Human traffickers, poachers and prisoners who were charged for possessing human body parts, embezzlers of public funds and recidivists have not been included as they are not eligible for the presidential pardon.