Local media reports are indicating that only one woman is among 197 prisoners which Malawi president Peter Mutharika has pardoned as part of Christmas celebrations.
The development has angered gender rights campaigners.
A statement from Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security says the pardoned prisoners are those who have served at least half of their prison sentences, with good behavior and were not convicted of serious offences.
“The pardon of the 197 prisoners is a symbol of forgiveness as the country commemorates its Christmas and New Year Celebrations”, says the statement
However prison officials have told a local radio that only one woman is among those pardoned.
Malawi Prison spokesperson Evance Phiri says it was difficult to release more than one woman because most of the women who are currently serving jail terms are those who committed serious offenses like murder.
Phiri says the only woman who has been pardoned committed a minor offense of theft.
Coordinator for Gender Coordinating Network Emma Kaliya says this is unfair challenged the prison authorities to come up with a list of all women prisoners and the crimes they committed
“It is not true that from Nsanje to Karonga all but one woman committed murder offenses. We just believe there was bias in selecting those to be released” said Kaliya.
The pardoning of prisoners is common in Malawi during independence celebrations, as well as at Easter and at Christmas
The country’s 23 prisons are notorious for the poor conditions in which inmates are kept.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :