Prisoners’ rights protection association on Tuesday said they will protest following the announcement of the 75 prisoners who will be released with pardons from President Nikos Christodoulides.
The pardons will see the prisoners’ sentences reduced to a quarter, but exclude those who have been convicted of drug trafficking and supply offences, sexual offences, murder and child abuse offences.
However, the prisoners’ rights protection association said some inmates who should have been excluded were pardoned.
The association had earlier this month said they had been kept in the dark about whether the new president would be sticking to the tradition of granting pardons.
Following the announcement, the association said it seems the people who were finally selected to receive a presidential pardon, were chosen in a way “completely contrary” to what had been discussed in a previous private meeting with the president.
The inmates were selected “on the basis of other criteria which no one knows”, said in a letter sent on Tuesday to the President of the Republic, Nicos Christodoulides, the President of the Association for the Protection of the Rights of Prisoners and Released Persons, Anna Antoniou.
The letter, which was made public, states that the association has decided to call on people to demonstrate immediately with more details to be announced shortly afterwards.
“The protests will not stop until we are heard,” it added.
Individuals within the Central Prison are treated in an extremely unfair and unequal manner without proper consideration or factors such as rehabilitation history, personal or family circumstances and the circumstances of the offences committed.
This creates “enormous discrimination and irreparable harm to all those affected inside and outside the Prison,” the association said in its letter.
“Despite the fact that the blanket exclusion of all these categories violates all the principles that we as an association wanted to protect, we are in a position to know that in the end even these were not applied, as there are individuals who while they should have been excluded were nevertheless pardoned and even released.”
The president can grant pardons every year on holidays like New Year’s Day, Easter, as well as on the anniversary of the Republic or the election of the president.
Prior to the announcement, the association had threatened with measures and protests from prisoners and their families if the tradition was not kept up this year.
“For the past two months, our association has been trying to get a clear answer from people in charge, but was unsuccessful despite our written letters, messages, promises and other information,” a statement issued on March 11 said.
Last Thursday, a representative from the association, along with their lawyer Alexandros Clerides, attended a meeting with presidential office head Charalambos Charalambous, where they discussed the matter in anticipation of an official announcement, which was finally made on Tuesday.