The Sunday News
Emmanuel Kafe, Harare Bureau
THE African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) has commended President Mnangagwa for safeguarding the health and welfare of prisoners after he granted pardons to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Over 5 800 prisoners have been released from prison after benefitting from three separate pardons decreed by the President since last year. In a statement, the commission, which is mandated with promoting and defending human rights on the continent, said clemency was a central pillar of successful response to Covid-19.
“The Commissioner Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Zimbabwe, Commissioner Jamesina Essie King, together with the Special Rapporteur on Prisons, Conditions of Detention and Policing in Africa, Commissioner Maria Teresa Manuela, have conveyed a joint letter of appreciation to His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, commending the recent Presidential Amnesties which have seen 5 878 prisoners being released from the country’s prisons since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The decision by Zimbabwe is firmly in line with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights Resolution 449 (LXVI) 2020 on Human and Peoples’ Rights as a central pillar of successful response to Covid-19 and recovery from its socio-political impacts. This resolution was adopted at the African Commission’s 66th ordinary session of August 2020,” read part of the statement.
The continental body believes prisoners run a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus and there was limited possibility of containing it in prisons and detention facilities. Member states were also urged to adopt appropriate emergency measures to reduce overcrowding. In 2019, the commission, at its 65th ordinary session, applauded Zimbabwe for being up-to-date with its state party reporting obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.