Congo will release more than 1,200 prisoners this month to reduce overcrowding in its jails, according to Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba.
The measure will only concern inmates who have served a quarter of their sentences and have behaved well, local radio station Okapi on Tuesday quoted the minister as saying.
The measure is not expected to affect prisoners serving time for serious crimes.
Those released will be observed “for a good amount of time,” the minister said, adding that those who reoffend would be sent back to jail.
The announcement followed an amnesty granted by President Joseph Kabila to inmates aged 70 years or older on December 31. No figures were provided on how many people this affects.
Congo has about 6,800 inmates in 33 prisons, according to the latest UN statistics, which date from 2005.
Some penitentiaries house four times the number of inmates for which they were originally designed.
Many inmates spend two years in prison before going on trial, human rights activist Roger Logo told dpa.
“There are innocent people living in subhuman conditions” in Congolese prisons, the activist added.