Tajikistan plans to release 15,000 prisoners, including some Islamist insurgents who fought against the government in the late 1990s, in an amnesty to mark the 20th anniversary of the Central Asian state's independence.
The biggest amnesty in Tajikistan's history will set free approximately half of the country's prison population.
Official state news agency Khovar announced the amnesty proposal on its website, www.khovar.tj, on Wednesday. Ex-Soviet Tajikistan will celebrate 20 years of independence in September.
Tajikistan, a mountainous country of 7.5 million people bordering Afghanistan and China, is the poorest of the 15 former Soviet republics and relies heavily on remittances from migrant workers.
The amnesty law, sent by President Imomali Rakhmon for approval by parliament, for the first time proposes the release of religious people and insurgents who fought government troops.
The law refers specifically to armed battle in 1997 and 1998 during a civil war that killed tens of thousands of people in the 1990s.
It said those fighters who had already served three quarters of their sentences would be released.
Under the planned amnesty, Tajikistan will also release invalids, veterans of World War Two and the Soviet war in Afghanistan, army deserters and those suffering from cancer or tuberculosis.
The country has had 11 amnesties in its history, most recently in November 2009, when around 10,000 prisoners were released. Amnesties do not include those convicted of murder or terrorism.
ReutersGüncelleme Tarihi: 28 Temmuz 2011, 12:08