DAR ES SALAAM, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Monday pardoned a record 5,533 prisoners serving jail terms across the east African nation, saying the move was aimed at easing congestion in prisons.
In an address to the nation to mark 58 years of the Tanzanian mainland's independence broadcast live by state-run Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation in Mwanza city, Magufuli said the country's prisons were appallingly congested.
He said recently he visited Butimba prison in Mwanza region and found inmates crowded, a situation that was also reflected in other prisons across the country.
Magufuli said current statistics indicated that there were 17,547 prisoners and 18,256 remand prisoners awaiting trials, bringing to 35,803 the total number of inmates in the country's jails.
"Some of these prisoners are serving jail terms after they were convicted on minor offenses like stealing chicken, or for lack of defense lawyers, or for failure to pay fines," he said.
He said prisoners who will be qualified for the pardon were all prisoners serving a one-year jail term and those serving long jail terms but they have only one more year to serve.
"I am not comfortable to lead a nation of prisoners," Magufuli told his audience of senior government officials, members of development partners, political leaders and retired government leaders.
He ordered relevant authorities to start releasing the pardoned prisoners from Tuesday.