Virus fears: Mozambique frees 5,000 inmates

No virus cases have been reported in its congested prisons, but officials said they were taking precautions. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • The law will benefit inmates who had sentences of up to one year.
  • So far, Mozambique has confirmed 10 coronavirus cases.

MAPUTO. Authorities in Mozambique have freed more than 5,000 inmates as coronavirus fears grow in the Southern Africa country.

Parliament on Monday passed an amnesty law on sentences affecting 5,032 local and foreign nationals to reduce congestion and curb the spread of Covid-19.

The law will benefit inmates who had sentences of up to one year.

So far, Mozambique has confirmed 10 coronavirus cases. None of those were reported in its congested prisons though, but officials said they were taking precautions.

“Mozambique jails, which have five times more than its real 4,498 capacity, are overcrowded and this would be risky for the pandemic spread,” Minister for Justice, Religious and Constitutional Matters Helena Kida said.

EMERGENCY

Last week, Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi declared a countrywide state of emergency effective April 1 to 30 in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Mr Nyusi justified the measures citing the need to protect all people's lives.

The southern African country also suspended the issuance of visas with effect from March 23 and shut all education institutions as preventive measure.

In March 22, Mozambique confirmed its first positive case of Covid-19.

Gatherings of more than 50 people are also prohibited according to the presidential decree.

INSURGENCY

Meanwhile, the country has been facing an insurgency in the north.

Following an attack at Mocimboa da Praia Quissanga villages, Cabo Delgado, tens of displaced families are fleeing to the provincial capital Pemba seeking security.

Cabo Delgado, which is about 1,663 kilometres north of Maputo, boasts minerals such as gold, grenadines, aquamarines, tourmalines, blue topaz and green tourmalines and attracts many foreigners.

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