Ethiopia:over 4000 prisoners walk free as part of COVID 19 prevention

Some of the prisoners were in Qaliti Maximum prison facility near Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa

Prisoners amnesty _  Ethiopia _ COVID 19

borkena
March 25, 2020

The Federal government of Ethiopia set 4011 convicts free on Wednesday. It is part of the measures that the government took to curb COVID 19 transmission in prison facilities.

“To contain the spread of Coronavirus, 4011 convicts who are serving their sentence in federal prison facilities will be released,” said Adanech Abebe, the Federal Attorney-general who was appointed to the position this month. 

The Amnesty Board has presented the case to President Sahle-Work Zewde, who has the constitutional right to approve the amnesty. And she gave assent to it. 

Adanech mentioned four categories of prisoners who are included in the lists of those to walk out free from jail. 

1) Those convicts who were serving up to three years in prison 2) those who are left with only one year of parole 3) those who are pregnant and 4) breastfeeding if their case is not related to homicide and foreign nationals whose cases are not of homicide nature are included in the amnesty. 

But it is not verified from independent sources if all those who are in similar circumstances, and with similar cases, across the Federal prisons were released. 

The foreign nationals who got released will be traveling to their country, and apparently Ethiopian government is paying for their travel based on the Attorney General’s statement. 

All those who got their freedom on Wednesday will take a test to determine if they are infected with COVID 19, and will be quarantined if they tested positive for the test.

They were serving their jail terms in five federal prison facilities: Qaliti maximum prison, Kilinto, Shewarobit, Ziway, and Dire Dawa Prison facilities. 

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration has introduced a series of regulations to curb the spread of COVID 19. Large public gatherings are banned. Schools across the country closed temporarily. Night clubs and bars closed. Travelers arriving at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa are to go through fourteen days of mandatory quarantine and get tested to determine if they have COVID 19 virus. All land borders are closed. University students are going home abandoning their respective university campuses until further notice, among other measures. 

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister announced a national fundraising campaign for the prevention of the global pandemic. Earlier, the Federal government announced that it had allocated 5 billion Ethiopian birr for the same purpose. 

In a related development, Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s regional state said on Wednesday that it had given amnesty to 3,642  convicts as part of the effort to minimize vulnerability to COVID 19 in the region’s prison facilities. The regional state has also banned night clubs, bars, and any large gatherings, including weddings. 

So far, the number of confirmed COVID 19 patients in the country is only 12, but there are fears that the number could get out of control. 

And there is only one testing laboratory in the country. Today, Director of the Institute of Public Health, Dr. Eba Abate, said, as reported by Ethiopian News Agency, two more laboratories are opening to elevate the level of preparedness for the epidemic. 



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