Tajikistan to Free 15,000 Prisoners in Mass Amnesty

Posted July 27th, 2011 at 9:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Tajik officials say President Emomali Rakhmon plans to free 15,000 prisoners in an amnesty to mark the 20th anniversary of the country's independence.

The presidential press service said Wednesday the amnesty law, sent by Mr. Rakhmon for approval by parliament, will release approximately half of the Central Asian nation's prison population.

Tajik officials say the sweeping amnesty covers people convicted of minor crimes and, for the first time, participants in armed rebellions in 1997 and 1998 who had already served three quarters of their sentences.

Under the planned amnesty, Tajikistan will also free minors, the disabled, veterans of World War Two and the Soviet war in Afghanistan, army deserters and those suffering from cancer and tuberculosis.

The country has had 12 amnesties since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The most recent took place in November 2009, when some 10,000 prisoners were released.