Zimbabwe releases more prisoners as virus amnesty

A police water canon sprays disinfectant over residential flats during a 21-day nationwide lockdown called to help curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Harare, Zimbabwe, April 3, 2020. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

More prisoners in Zimbabwe have been granted clemency to broadening conditions for release in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Those who are facing life sentences and who have served at least 20 years of a sentence could be released, according to a government notice.

Some 1,500 prisoners were released in march however prisoners remain overcrowded with a total of 20,000 inmates against a capacity that holds 17,000.

The amnesty favours all female prisoners convicted for violent crimes, all juveniles and the terminally ill.

It also favours men who have served at least a quarter of a three-year prison sentence will also be freed.

The country has granted more than a dozen amnesties over the years to decongest prisons but they remain overcrowded.

Coronavirus has been slow in spread in Zimbabwe but there are fears the country’s health facilities will not be able to cope if numbers increase.