Nicaragua paroles 8,000 convicts to clear prisons

Nicaragua has released more than 8,000 convicts on parole and sent 94 foreigners to finish sentences in their home countries since 2014, easing overcrowding in prisons (AFP Photo/Rodrigo Arangua)

Managua (AFP) - Nicaragua has released more than 8,000 convicts on parole and sent 94 foreigners to finish sentences in their home countries since 2014, easing overcrowding in prisons, the government said Monday.

All the 8,149 Nicaraguans given conditional release had been put behind bars with light sentences of five years or less, the government said in a statement.

It gave no details on the foreign convicts deported beyond the figures: 58 sent home in 2014, 31 in 2015 and five so far this year.

The releases were approved by the justice ministry, national prosecutors and the police, and were part of "a humanitarian and reconciliation policy."

Authorities did not say what the remaining prison population was in the Central American nation.

However, according to the non-governmental Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights, there were more than 10,500 Nicaraguan and foreign prisoners last year -- double the capacity of the country's penitentiaries.

Last week, the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua criticized rights violations in the prisons, citing abuse, long periods of incarceration without right to sentence review and overcrowding.