By SYLVESTER MWALE –
THE Prisons Care and Counselling Association (PRICCA) says the latest pardoning of 500 prisoners by President Edgar Lungu is a clear demonstration of Zambia’s declaration as a Christian Nation.
President Lungu early this month pardoned 500 prisoners drawn from various prisons across the country, among them 26 females, 10 of whom were terminally ill and 14 aged inmates.
The latest amnesty by the President brought the number of inmates released from jail to 1,002 in a space of two months after the Head of State discharged 502 on Christmas Eve.
PRISCA executive director Godfrey Malembeka said in an interview yesterday that Mr Lungu had rightly interpreted the meaning of a Christian Nation by releasing more prisoners.
“The declaration of Zambia as a Christian Nation should be backed by actions and President Lungu has demonstrated this by releasing more prisoners from jail.
“We want to thank the President for this gesture and we are on our knees for more pardons and release so that we can show love to the prisoners and decongest our prisons,” he said.
As a Christian Nation, Mr Malembeka said there was need to adopt restorative justice where sinners were forgiven and given a chance to reform.
He called on various stakeholders, including civil society organisations and individuals, to assist the ex-inmates with various forms of capital for easy integration into society.
Mr Malembeka, who is a former prisoner, said that while the released prisoners acquired some skills during their jail time, they would require capital for them to sustain their lives.
He commended the Government for ensuring that prisoners enjoyed their human rights.
The country has the capacity of just more than 8,000 prisoners in the prisons, although it is currently home to more than 20,000 inmates.
Mr Malembeka urged the pardoned inmates to demonstrate that they had reformed when reunited in the various communities, adding that they should take advantage of the voter registration to take part in the general elections in August this year.