Gambian authorities have started releasing the first batch of prisoners after President Adama Barrow pardoned at least 174 inmates on Saturday in commemoration of the country’s 52nd independent anniversary, prison officials say.
The pardoning of the prisoners will be well received by Gambians after the telecasting of images of conditions at the notorious Mile II Prisons, which rights campaigners say is inhumane to keep detainees.
Gambian prisoners have been subjected to beatings and degrading treatment by wardens, rights groups reported.
Barrow was on Saturday also inaugurated as president on Gambian soil, marking the end of a tense political standoff with the West African nation’s former leader, Yahya Jammeh.
Jammeh had in the past pardoned hundreds of prisoners, but the move did not give him the much needed propaganda to boost his dwindling popularity.
Barrow is working on restoring the country’s international repute, which had been defaced by human rights abuses under Jammeh.
The pardoning of prisoners will set his promise to reform the prison system, a key concern for development partners and rights campaigners.