The term former convict leads to stigma. Hence, the primary task of those pardoned is to move away from being seen as ex convicts and earn the status of sovereign citizens who are equal in dignity to all others. They need to earn the empathy of all human beings by saying and doing things which would earn the respect of others.
Prisoners fall under different categories. Some are victims of the miscarriage of justice and should develop the spirit of forgiveness instead of nurturing a revengeful attitude.
Some have offended others and should develop the spirit of repentance by asking for the forgiveness of those who suffered ill from their misdeed.
Hence, no person should be identified as an ex prisoner or ex convict once one becomes free. It is dehumanising for anyone to appear on any stage as an ex convict, especially to give thanks for having been put in chains and then pardoned. One would be narrating fiction if one narrates what one went through with joy.
One who has benefitted from a prerogative of mercy is obliged to be grateful. Such a person is always obliged to say what the person who granted the mercy wants to hear. Hence, the words of gratitude are better not said since no one would be able to gauge whether they are from the bottom of one’s heart or lip service to meet the demands of the situation.
What the persons concerned need is privacy to put their battered lives and integrity together. This would not be restored by making staged managed statements. This would only earn them laughter instead of empathy and further make them vulnerable to caricature.
We therefore call on the state not to transform the release into fanfare aimed at making political gains. This would transform the exercise of the prerogative of mercy into a propaganda tool for promoting self perpetuating rule.