ON the commemoration of the Union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar, on April 26, President John Magufuli pardoned 722 inmates and reduced the sentences of 2,808 others.
He did this in accordance with Article 45(1)(d) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania. The inmates, who have benefitted from the presidential pardon, include those living with HIV/Aids, TB, cancer (in terminal stage) and those aged 70 and above.
Others are those imprisoned while they were pregnant and those, who were imprisoned with or without breastfeeding children. The list includes also inmates with physical and mental disabilities – all of who must have started serving their jail terms before March 15, 2019.
A person is convicted by a competent court to serve a jail term after being found guilty of an offence punishable by imprisonment after the court is satisfied with incriminating evidence beyond reasonable doubt.
But as the Constitution provides, a person is entitled to fair hearing and to the right of appeal or any other remedy against the court decision or any agency concerned.
A prison is a facility, where inmates are not only incarcerated and deprived of their freedoms, but also where they are rehabilitated to be responsible and decent law-abiding citizens.
Taking into account that 3,530 inmates have benefitted from the presidential pardon, it is our hope that they will be agents of positive change, when they are reintegrated into society.
Their prison experiences have taught them many things that we believe will help change their behaviour and help other people to change.
It is in light of this, that we want to emphasise their role in deterring criminal behaviour in society because they know better what it leads to.
We say this taking into account that, every year the President pardons thousands of inmates and so after many years so many inmates will have been pardoned and if each of them influences positive behavioural or social change we will have more and more responsible and decent law-abiding citizens in society.
With the decadence we experience in society today we need more and more responsible and decent law-abiding citizens and we believe if one pardoned inmate influences positive behavioural or social change, we will be able to change the entire nation.
With this positive change we expect a significant drop in corruption, stealing, robbery or armed robbery, house breaking and burglary, sodomy, rapes, mismanagement of public funds, depletion of natural resources, economic sabotage, money laundering, abductions and so on.
Let the pardoned inmates take this as a challenge and play their role to help make Tanzania a better nation for nothing is impossible.