PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has granted relief to some prisoners on death row after he commuted their sentences to life imprisonment.

Mnangagwa also announced amnesty for prisoners serving various sentences ahead of today’s independence celebrations.

Zimbabwe abolished the death penalty in February this year giving relief to 63 inmates who were destined for gallows for various crimes.

The country carried out its last execution in 2005, but the death sentence has continued to be imposed.

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs secretary Vimbai Nyemba promulgated the Clemency Order in a General Notice published the Extraordinary Government Gazette early this week.

According to the notice, commutation of the death sentence to life imprisonment was granted to all inmates who have been on death row for 10 years and above.

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Full remission of the remaining period was also granted to inmates who had served life imprisonment for at least 20 years.

“This includes — inmates sentenced to life imprisonment; inmates whose sentences were commuted from death to life imprisonment.

“In this case the period of 20 years will include the period when the inmate was serving as a prisoner under the sentence of death; inmates whose sentences were altered to life imprisonment on appeal or review,” the notice indicated.

It further announced remission of sentences for convicted female inmates, save for those convicted of specified offences.

“The inmate should have served one-third (1/3) of the sentence by 18th April, 2024. Full remission of the remaining period of imprisonment for all juveniles that is, those inmates under the age of eighteen (18) years.

“The inmate should have served one-third (1/3) of the sentence by 18th April, 2024. Age determination will be based on the birth certificate or dental age estimation of the concerned prisoner.”

The amnesty, however, excluded inmates charged under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act [Chapter 9:23].

The amnesty has also been extended to prisoners sentenced to 48 months and below and who would have served a third of their sentence by April 18, 2024, provided they are not convicted for specified offences.

Remissions were granted on medical grounds, prisoners at open prisons, those aged 60 years and above and inmates with disabilities.

A quarter remissions were extended for inmates serving an effective sentence above 48 months and who would have served at least a third of the sentence including those under specified offences.

Prisoners excluded from amnesty include former amnesty beneficiaries, those serving a sentence imposed by Court Martial and inmates who have records of escaping from lawful custody.

Inmates serving sentences of murder, treason, rape or any sexual offence, carjacking, robbery, public violence and human trafficking will not benefit from the amnesty.

Also excluded are prisoners jailed for unlawful possession of firearms, contravention of the Electricity Act, Postal and Telecommunications Act, Public Order and Security Act or Maintenance of Peace and Order Act and any conspiracy, incitement or attempt to commit any of the listed offences.

Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services national spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Meya Khanyezi said the presidential amnesty served as a tangible demonstration of the government’s commitment to the rehabilitation of offenders.

“It is a significant step towards building a harmonious and inclusive society where every individual has the opportunity to contribute positively,” she said.

Khanyezi called on beneficiaries to seize the opportunity for personal growth and transformation.

“This release is not only a second chance; it is a chance to rewrite the narrative of their lives and become productive members of society coming from bars to business,” she said.