The Ethiopian government on Thursday disclosed that 45,875 prisoners have been pardoned in the past nine months.
The prisoners were granted amnesty following the ratification of an amnesty bill by the Ethiopian House of Peoples’ Representatives (HoPR), the Ethiopian parliament’s lower house, in June 2018, state affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC) reported.
According to the Ethiopian Federal Attorney-General, among the large number of prisoners that have benefited from the amnesty law include political prisoners, journalists, and former Ethiopian government officials.
In addition to the large-scale release of prisoners, the law also granted an amnesty to exiled Ethiopians, who were for decades considered as terrorists with arrest warrant on their name, to return to the country and pursue political life in a peaceful manner.
Among the released terrorism-related convicts include the former prominent rebel leader, Andargachew Tsige, a British citizen of Ethiopian origin.
Tsige had served a prison sentence since June 2014, for leading and directing an outlawed rebel group Patriotic Ginbot 7 (PG7), based mainly in Ethiopia’s former archrival Eritrea.
Tsige’s release, which the attorney general said was on a “special amnesty rationale”, followed the Ethiopian government’s announcement to release former high-profile Ethiopian government officials and other political prisoners.
Among the former Ethiopian government officials whose cases dropped over the past year also include Melaku Fanta, the former Director-General of the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority with the rank of a Minister.
And also his deputy, Gebrewahed Woldegiorgis, who was arrested in 2013 together with 11 other individuals suspected of involving in large-scale corruption.
The Ethiopian government said the amnesty programme was aimed at national reconciliation and unity.
The amnesty programme has seen the release of thousands of prisoners and others under investigation since Abiy Ahmed’s election as Prime Minister of Ethiopia in April 2018.
The Ethiopian government characterised the mass prisoner release programmes as part of its efforts to widen political space by creating national consensus and reconciliation.