Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi announced on Wednesday 19 December that he is exercising his constitutional prerogative to pardon prisoners deemed to have been rehabilitated before the end of their sentences, and to release prisoners who need medical treatment that the prison service can’t offer.
President Nyusi made this announcement at the end of his State of the Nation address. He said that he was acting “in the spirit of clemency, humanism and compassion, and out of conviction in the results of the work of our institutions in regenerating and rehabilitating prisoners”.
He said the pardon covers approximately 1,948 prisoners, who will now be able to spend Christmas with their families.
Nyusi said that the affected citizens are on a list drawn up after a “deep and specialized work” carried out by prison officers, courts and ministries of justice and health.
This is the second time that Nyusi makes an equal decision. Also in December 2015 Nyusi announced the pardon of 1,000 prisoners suffering from serious or terminal illnesses, elderly prisoners, and others who have served half, or nearly half, of their sentences and show that they are rehabilitated and ready to return to society.
These are measures that, although the Mozambican authorities do not disclose, they help to reduce the overcrowding of the chains, which is currently at 222.1%, according to data from the Office of the Attorney General published in June 2018, with young people constituting the majority of the prison population, with 28.7% in the age group between 22 and 25 years old and 35% of inmates aged between 26 and 35 years.
The Mozambican prosecutor’s office believes that the overcrowding of prisons is caused by poor prison facilities, excessive use of deprivation of liberty and weak enforcement of alternative measures and penalties for imprisonment, a situation that makes difficult the management, security, rehabilitation and re-socialization of the inmates.