Kathmandu, May 29
On the occasion of the 12th Republic Day, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari granted amnesty to 434 convicts doing time in prisons across the country.
They will be entitled to remission of remaining jail terms under the amnesty. A press release issued by the Office of the President stated that eligible jailbirds were granted amnesty in accordance with Article 276 of the constitution, on the recommendation of the Council of Ministers.
Nepal has a tradition of granting amnesty to eligible prisoners to mark major festivals like Dashain, Tihar and Republic Day. The government may recommend the President to waive off the remaining jail term of the prisoners, who have been convicted of small-time crimes and have already served at least 40 per cent of the jail term, provided they have demonstrated a good conduct in prison.
Seventy-five per cent of the remaining term of jailbirds, who are above 65 years, and have demonstrated good conduct, may be commuted. However, those convicted for 14 types of heinous crimes, including kidnapping and hostage-taking, rape, molestation, human trafficking, murder, corruption and smuggling of drugs and body parts of wild animals are not eligible for pardon, as per Rule 29 of the Prison Rules.
Earlier, the Department of Prison Management had forwarded a list of convicts deemed eligible for amnesty to the Ministry of Home Affairs, on the recommendation of concerned jailers. Upon receiving the list, the ministry had forwarded it to the Cabinet before seeking presidential approval.
The amnesty policy aims to reduce pressure in overcrowded prisons and give an opportunity to small-time offenders to correct themselves. The country has 74 prisons in 72 of total 77 districts. The prisons with a total capacity of around 14,000 persons were crammed with more than 19,000 jailbirds, as of mid-April.
A version of this article appears in print on May 30, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.