Ethiopia pardons more than 45,800 prisoners over past nine months

Source: Xinhua| 2019-02-14 22:40:03|Editor: yan
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ADDIS ABABA, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- The Ethiopian government on Thursday disclosed that more than 45,800 prisoners have been pardoned during the past nine-month period.

The 45,875 prisoners were granted amnesty following the ratification of an amnesty bill by the Ethiopian House of Peoples' Representatives (HoPR), the Ethiopian parliament's lower house, in June last year, state affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC) reported.

According to the Ethiopian Federal Attorney General, among the large number of prisoners that have benefited from the amnesty law include political prisoners, journalists, as well as various other former Ethiopian government officials.

In addition to the large-sacle release of prisoners, the law also granted an amnesty to exiled Ethiopians, who were for decades considered as terrorists with arrest warrant on their name, to return to the East African country and pursue political life in a peaceful manner.

Among the released terrorism-related convicts include the former prominent rebel leader, Andargachew Tsige, a British citizen of Ethiopian origin, who had served a prison sentence since June 2014, for leading and directing an outlawed rebel group Patriotic Ginbot 7 (PG7), based mainly in Ethiopia's former archrival Eritrea.

Tsige's release, which the attorney general said was on a "special amnesty rationale", followed the Ethiopian government's announcement to release former high-profile Ethiopian government officials as well as other political prisoners.

Among the former Ethiopian government officials whose cases dropped over the past year also include Melaku Fanta, the former Director General of the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority with the rank of a Minister, and his deputy, Gebrewahed Woldegiorgis, who was arrested in 2013 together with 11 other individuals suspected of involving in large-scale corruption.

The amnesty program, which the Ethiopian government said is a means towards national reconciliation and unity, has seen the release of thousands of prisoners and others under investigation since Abiy Ahmed's election as Prime Minister of Ethiopia in April last year.

The Ethiopian government characterized the mass prisoner release programs as part of its efforts to widen political space by creating national consensus and reconciliation, in which regional states across the East African country also conducted similar large scale prisoners release over the past year.