Ethiopia will release over 4,000 prisoners as part of the government’s efforts to control the spread of coronavirus. On Wednesday, the country’s attorney general said that prisoners convicted of minor offences and women inmates with babies are among those who will be released.
The pardon extends to foreigners charged for their involvement in smuggling and drug trafficking. They will be freed and immediately deported to their country of origin.
Journalist Fekadu Mahtemework is listed among those to be set free. It is said that in 2018, the magazine editor returned to Ethiopia after Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy assumed office. It was a time when thousands of political prisoners were freed, a state of emergency ended, and several political parties unbanned.
However, according to BBC, last October he was sentenced to seven years in jail as the tax evasion charges he faced in absentia were still valid. Like many other countries battling to curb the spread of coronavirus, the Ethiopian government also announced on Wednesday that most employees should be made to work from home. The country is also closing all its land borders to prevent the influx of new cases.
Nonetheless, all passengers travelling to Ethiopia by air are subject to be quarantined for 14 days in eight designated hotels by authorities.
Provisions have been made by government for Ethiopian citizens who genuinely cannot afford to pay for their expenses while on lockdown at the hotel. According to a statement by the Ethiopian Public Health Institute, more than 400 travelers have commenced their mandatory quarantine.
These measures have been put in place because Ethiopia has reported 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and all efforts to prevent further cases are being enforced.