By Andrew Wasike
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta Thursday announced that he was pardoning more than 7,000 convicts, in the process making space for people convicted of crimes of corruption.
“Today I have pardoned more than 7,000 convicts, including some who were being held for petty crimes and those who were about to finish their prison sentences,” Kenyatta announced at celebrations of Mashujaa Day (Heroes Day), a day honoring those who fought for the country’s independence.
“The chief justice now has enough room to jail the ‘big fish’ who are involved in the theft of public funds through corruption, we now have enough space so he should hurry and deal with those people properly,” he added.
Kenyatta explained that some of the petty offenders had been arrested for being involved in the theft of livestock, among other offenses, and were crowding prisons.
The Kenyan Constitution gives the president the power of granting a free or conditional pardon to a person convicted of an offense and also substituting a less severe form of punishment.
Kenyatta called on every Kenyan to honor those who spilled their blood for the independence of their country.
He said that the struggle that Kenyans and other Africans went through had forged a generation of men and women of noble character and honor, driven by courage, a deep hatred of injustice, and a fierce desire for freedom.
“Some bore arms, some fought with the pen. These men and women came from every part of the country, they set aside their differences, and endured the lash of the whip; the squalor of jail and the concentration camp; and the brutality of the emergency. They won our freedom for us; it is they who define heroism for us,” he said.
Kenyatta called on all Kenyans to aspire to be better citizens as they remember their heroes.
The previous record in Kenya for granting clemency was President Mwai Kibaki, who freed 6,700 prisoners in 2102.