Ethiopia pardons 530 prisoners amid Christmas day celebrations

The office of the Attorney General of Ethiopia announced on January 2 that it had pardoned 538 prisoners, both from Federal and regional prisons.

This amnesty was given on the occasion of Ethiopian Christmas, which will be celebrated on January 7 with the rest of the Orthodox Christian world.

Priority will go to mothers, elders and those whose health is not in good condition.

Zeleke Dalalo, Federal Amnesty Board Office secretary, told journalists during a press conference that the amnesty focused on those who need special attention.

“From the point of view of observing the rights of children, the Board gave special consideration to 26 mothers who were arrested with their children to make them beneficiaries of the amnesty,” he told journalists.

He also added that elderly prisoners whose names were forwarded by prison administration on the grounds that they have made the correctional service a bit difficult because of their age are included in the amnesty. Prisoners over sixty years of age are included in this category of Amnesty.

The Board decided that convicts who committed crimes like rape, homicide, severe corruption, and contraband trade would not be included in the amnesty. The consideration for this decision, according to Zeleke Dalalo, was public interest and correctional benefits of times to be served for individuals who committed the crimes mentioned above.

Since the Amnesty Law was promulgated last year, Ethiopia has given amnesty to 13,122 inmates. The Ethiopian government, following Abiy Ahmed’s appointment as the country’s Prime Minister in April 2018, has been implementing various decisions aimed at creating a nationwide reconciliation. They include the release of prisoners, the invitation for Ethiopian rebel groups for talks as well as the decision to normalize relations with its regional arch-rival Eritrea.