Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) says it will release about 2,000 prisoners this month in a plan aimed to reduce overcrowding in jails and calm political tensions at the start of an election year, according to Reuters.
The country is expected to hold local, provincial and presidential elections in November.
DRC’s Justice minister Alexis Thambwe Mambwa reportedly said about 1,200 low-level offenders who have served at least one-quarter of their sentences and received approval from the prison director and prosecutor-general would be freed in the coming weeks.
President Joseph Kabila also recently granted amnesty to about 800 prisoners who have committed minor crimes and are aged 70 years or older.
According to the United Nations (UN), DRC’s prisons are overpopulated and hold around 20,000 people, well above the capacity which they were originally designed for.
Prisons in the country are infamous for their appalling conditions and many inmates suffer from health problems such as Tuberculosis. Furthermore, food is often in short supply and prisoners suffer from hunger and malnutrition.
The release of 2,000 prisoners will certainly ease some pressure on the country’s overpopulated prisons.