April 29, 2015 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
As part of celebrations to mark the country’s 54th independence anniversary, President Ernest Bai Koroma on Monday (April 27) pardoned some one hundred and fifty-two (152) inmates from correctional centres across the country.
Among the pardoned inmates were 10 females from the female correctional center at the former Special Court for Sierra Leone, 79 from the male correctional center on Pademba Road in Freetown, 11 from Pujehun, Bo 6, Kenema 9, 3 each from Port Loko, Magburaka, Kabala and Kailahun, 2 each from Bonthe and Kambia, one from Mattru Jong, Moyamba 4 and Makeni 5.
According to Public Relations Officer of the Sierra Leone Correctional Service, Mohamed Opito Jimmy, Section 63 of the 1991 Constitution accords the President the power to release convicted inmates freely without subject to lawful conditions.
The release of prisoners on Independence Day has become an annual event for successive presidents.
Jimmy told Concord Times in an interview that only convicted inmates with minor traffic offences, larceny and loitering, etc, were pardoned and that no death row inmates or those convicted for major offences were pardoned.
He said the more than one hundred released inmates had served more than half of their sentences with good behaviour, while the aged and critically sick were among those granted presidential pardon.
Asked why only 10 female inmates as compared to 142 male were pardoned by the President, Mr. Jimmy replied that majority of female inmates were in jail for serious offences and that the presidential pardon considers those that had committed minor offences.
“Section 63 of Act No.6 of the 1991 Constitution gives the President the power to release convicted inmates. No death row prisoner was among the 152 inmates pardoned by the President,” he said and added that out of 17 correctional centres across the country, only 7 have convicted female inmates.
He added that nationwide correctional centres have just 131 female inmates, with a total of forty-one (41) already convicted.