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A pardon is a
government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legislature, executive, and judiciary. Government is a ...
decision to allow a person to be relieved of some or all of the legal consequences resulting from a
criminal conviction In law, a conviction is the verdict that usually results when a court of law finds a defendant guilty of a crime. The opposite of a conviction is an acquittal (that is, "not guilty"). In Scotland and in the Netherlands, there can also be a verdi ...
. A pardon may be granted before or after conviction for the
crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term ''crime'' does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definition,Farmer, Lindsay: "Crime, definitions of", in C ...
, depending on the laws of the jurisdiction. Pardons can be granted in many countries when individuals are deemed to have demonstrated that they have "paid their debt to society", or are otherwise considered to be deserving of them. Pardons are sometimes offered to persons who were either wrongfully convicted or who claim that they were wrongfully convicted. In some jurisdictions of some nations, accepting a pardon may ''implicitly'' constitute an admission of guilt; the offer is refused in some cases. Cases of wrongful conviction are in recent times more often dealt with by
appeal In law, an appeal is the process in which cases are reviewed by a higher authority, where parties request a formal change to an official decision. Appeals function both as a process for error correction as well as a process of clarifying and ...
rather than by pardon; however, a pardon is sometimes offered when innocence is undisputed in order to avoid the costs that are associated with a retrial. Clemency plays a critical role when
capital punishment Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the state-sanctioned killing of a person as punishment for a crime. The sentence ordering that someone is punished with the death penalty is called a death sentence, and the act of carr ...
exists in a jurisdiction. Pardons are sometimes seen as a mechanism for combating corruption, allowing a particular authority to circumvent a flawed judicial process to free someone that is seen as wrongly convicted. Pardons can also be a source of controversy. In extreme cases, some pardons may be seen as acts of corruption by officials in the form of granting effective immunity as political favors.


By country


Australia

In Australia, the traditional pardon power is referred to as the
royal prerogative of mercy In the English and British tradition, the royal prerogative of mercy is one of the historic royal prerogatives of the British monarch, by which he or she can grant pardons (informally known as a royal pardon) to convicted persons. The royal prer ...
, an executive power that is vested in the Queen and may be exercised by the Governor-General. The prerogative of mercy is a broad discretionary power that may be exercised by a state governor who is acting on the advice of the state executive council and the state attorney general. Courts in Australia may also exercise their traditional power to exercise mercy when the circumstances of the defendant or offense warrant relief. In addition to the prerogative of mercy, Australia has passed legislation that creates additional avenues to seek a pardon, exoneration, reduced sentence, or conditional release.


Canada


Pardons

The
Parole Board of Canada The Parole Board of Canada (french: Commission des libérations conditionnelles du Canada; formerly known as the National Parole Board) is the Canadian government agency that is responsible for reviewing and issuing parole and criminal pardons in C ...
(PBC) is the federal agency responsible for making pardon decisions under the ''
Criminal Records Act The ''Criminal Records Act'' (the ''Act'') is a piece of Canadian legislation intended to provide for the relief of persons who have been convicted of offences and have subsequently rehabilitated themselves. It became law in 1985. The purpose of th ...
'' (CRA). Under the CRA, the PBC can issue, grant, deny, and revoke pardons. In 2012, the
Parliament of Canada The Parliament of Canada (french: Parlement du Canada) is the federal legislature of Canada, seated at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, and is composed of three parts: the Monarch, the Senate, and the House of Commons. By constitutional convention, th ...
passed the ''
Safe Streets and Communities Act The ''Safe Streets and Communities Act'' is a bill that was passed by the 41st Canadian Parliament 154–129 on March 12, 2012. When Parliament re-convened in September 2011, the Minister of Justice introduced the ''Safe Streets and Communities A ...
'', which changed many of elements regarding the criminal justice system. The Act replaced the term "pardon" with "record suspension", and the pardon system was similarly changed. A pardon keeps the police record of a
conviction In law, a conviction is the verdict that usually results when a court of law finds a defendant guilty of a crime. The opposite of a conviction is an acquittal (that is, "not guilty"). In Scotland and in the Netherlands, there can also be a verdi ...
separate and apart from other
criminal record A criminal record, police record, or colloquially rap sheet is a record of a person's criminal history. The information included in a criminal record and the existence of a criminal record varies between countries and even between jurisdictions w ...
s, and gives law-abiding citizens an opportunity to reintegrate into Canadian society. The RCMP removes all information about the conviction for which an individual received the pardon from the
Canadian Police Information CentreThe Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC; french: Centre d'information de la police canadienne, ''CIPC'') is the central police database where Canada's law enforcement agencies can access information on a number of matters. It is Canada's only n ...
(CPIC). Federal agencies cannot give out information about the conviction without approval from the
Minister of Public Safety The minister of public safety and emergency preparedness (french: ministre de la sécurité publique et de la protection civile) is the minister of the Crown in the Canadian Cabinet responsible for overseeing Public Safety Canada, the Government ...
Canada. A pardon does not, however, erase the fact that an individual was convicted of a crime. The criminal record is not erased, but it is kept separate and apart from other (non-pardoned) criminal records. A pardon removes disqualifications caused by a criminal conviction, such as the ability to
contract A contract is a legally binding document between at least two parties that defines and governs the rights and duties of the parties to an agreement. A contract is legally enforceable because it meets the requirements and approval of the law. A ...
with the federal government, or eligibility for
Canadian citizenship Canadian nationality (french: Nationalité canadienne) is regulated by the ''Citizenship Act'' (, 1985, c. C-29) since 1977. The Act determines who is, or is eligible to be, a citizen of Canada. Having replaced the previous ''Canadian Citizenship ...
. If an individual in receipt of a pardon is convicted of a new offence, the information may lead to a reactivation of the criminal record for which the pardon was received in CPIC. A pardon does not guarantee entry or
visa Visa most commonly refers to: *Visa Inc., a US multinational financial and payment cards company ** Visa Debit card issued by the above company ** Visa Electron, a debit card ** Visa Plus, an interbank network *Travel visa, a document that allows e ...
privileges to another country. Before travelling to another country, individuals must still contact the authorities of the country in question to find out what the requirements are to enter that country. Processing of pardons by the Parole Board of Canada generally takes six months for a
summary offence A summary offence is a crime in some common law jurisdictions that can be proceeded against summarily, without the right to a jury trial and/or indictment (required for an indictable offence). Canada In Canada, summary offences are referred to as s ...
and twelve months for an
indictable offence In many common law jurisdictions (''e.g.'' England and Wales, Ireland, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore), an indictable offence is an offence which can only be tried on an indictment after a preliminary hearing ...
. If the Parole Board proposes to deny the application, it can take 24 months to process. Individuals can apply for a pardon if they were convicted as an adult of a criminal offense in Canada, or of an offense under a federal act or
regulation Regulation is the management of complex systems according to a set of rules and trends. In systems theory, these types of rules exist in various fields of biology and society, but the term has slightly different meanings according to context. For ...
of Canada, or if they were convicted of a crime in another country and were transferred to Canada under the ''
Transfer of Offenders Act Transfer may refer to: Arts and media *''Transfer'' (2010 film), a German science-fiction movie directed by Damir Lukacevic and starring Zana Marjanović *''Transfer'' (1966 film), a short film * ''Transfer'' (journal), in management studies *"Th ...
'' or ''
International Transfer of Offenders Act The ''International Transfer of Offenders Act'' (french: Loi sur le transfèrement international des délinquants) is Canadian federal legislation. Passed in 2004, it allows Canadians who had been convicted of a crime in another nation to apply to s ...
''. Non-Canadian citizens are not eligible for a Canadian pardon unless they were convicted of a crime in Canada. To be eligible for a pardon or record suspension, individuals must have completed all of their sentences and a
waiting period A waiting period is the period of time between when an action is requested or mandated and when it occurs. In the United States, the term is commonly used in reference to gun control, abortion and marriage licences, as some U.S. states require a pe ...
. Individuals are considered to have completed all of their sentences if they have: * Paid all
fine FINE was created in 1998 and is an informal association of the four main fair trade networks: *F Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) *I International Fair Trade Association, now the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) * ...
s, surcharges,
costs In production, research, retail, and accounting, a cost is the value of money that has been used up to produce something or deliver a service, and hence is not available for use anymore. In business, the cost may be one of acquisition, in which cas ...
,
restitution The law of restitution is the law of gains-based recovery, in which a court orders the defendant to ''give up'' his gains to the claimant. It should be contrasted with the law of compensation, the law of loss-based recovery, in which a court order ...
and
compensation Compensation may refer to: *Financial compensation *Compensation (chess), various advantages a player has in exchange for a disadvantage *Compensation (engineering) *''Compensation'' (essay), by Ralph Waldo Emerson *''Compensation'' (film), a 2000 ...
orders * Served all sentences of imprisonment,
conditional sentences Conditional sentences are sentences that express one thing contingent on something else, e.g. "If it rains, the picnic will be cancelled". They are so called because the impact of the main clause of the sentence is ''conditional'' on the dependent ...
, including parole or statutory release * Completed their
probation Probation in criminal law is a period of supervision over an offender, ordered by the court instead of serving time in prison. In some jurisdictions, the term ''probation'' applies only to community sentences (alternatives to incarceration), su ...
order Prior to 2012, following completion of all of their sentences, individuals must have completed a waiting period, as follows: * Three years for
summary Summary may refer to: * Abstract (summary), shortening a passage or a write-up without changing its meaning but by using different words and sentences * Epitome, a summary or miniature form * Abridgement, the act of reducing a written work into ...
convictions under the ''
Criminal Code A criminal code (or penal code) is a document that compiles all, or a significant amount of, a particular jurisdiction's criminal law. Typically a criminal code will contain offences that are recognised in the jurisdiction, penalties that might b ...
'' or other federal act or regulation, except sexual crimes against children * Three years under the ''National Defence Act'', if fined $2,000 or less, detained or imprisoned six months or less, or subjected to various lesser punishments for a service offence * Five years for
indictable In many common law jurisdictions (''e.g.'' England and Wales, Ireland, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore), an indictable offence is an offence which can only be tried on an indictment after a preliminary hearing ...
convictions under the ''Criminal Code'' or other federal act or regulation and summary convictions of sexual crimes against children * Five years for all convictions by a Canadian offender transferred to Canada under the ''Transfer of Offenders Act'' or ''International Transfer of Offenders Act'' * Five years under the ''
National Defence Act The ''National Defence Act'' (NDA; French: ''Loi sur la défense nationale''; ''LDN'') is the primary enabling legislation for organizing and funding Canada's military. Passed in 1922, and in force as of January 1, 1923,dismissed from service * Ten years for
indictable In many common law jurisdictions (''e.g.'' England and Wales, Ireland, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore), an indictable offence is an offence which can only be tried on an indictment after a preliminary hearing ...
convictions for sexual crimes against children and criminals receiving more than two years of imprisonment time for "serious personal injury offence" such as
manslaughter Manslaughter is a common law legal term for homicide considered by law as less culpable than murder. The distinction between murder and manslaughter is sometimes said to have first been made by the ancient Athenian lawmaker Draco in the 7th cent ...
or other designated offence under section 752 of the Criminal Code. Effective 13 March 2012, the eligibility criteria and waiting periods changed: * Five years for
summary Summary may refer to: * Abstract (summary), shortening a passage or a write-up without changing its meaning but by using different words and sentences * Epitome, a summary or miniature form * Abridgement, the act of reducing a written work into ...
convictions under the ''
Criminal Code A criminal code (or penal code) is a document that compiles all, or a significant amount of, a particular jurisdiction's criminal law. Typically a criminal code will contain offences that are recognised in the jurisdiction, penalties that might b ...
'' or other federal act or regulation, except sexual crimes against children * Five years under the ''National Defence Act'', if fined $2,000 or less, detained or imprisoned six months or less, or subjected to various lesser punishments for a service offence * Ten years for
indictable In many common law jurisdictions (''e.g.'' England and Wales, Ireland, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore), an indictable offence is an offence which can only be tried on an indictment after a preliminary hearing ...
convictions under the ''Criminal Code'' or other federal act or regulation and summary convictions of sexual crimes against children * Ten years for all convictions by a Canadian offender transferred to Canada under the ''Transfer of Offenders Act'' or ''International Transfer of Offenders Act'' * Ten years under the ''
National Defence Act The ''National Defence Act'' (NDA; French: ''Loi sur la défense nationale''; ''LDN'') is the primary enabling legislation for organizing and funding Canada's military. Passed in 1922, and in force as of January 1, 1923,dismissed from service * "Not Eligible" for
indictable In many common law jurisdictions (''e.g.'' England and Wales, Ireland, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore), an indictable offence is an offence which can only be tried on an indictment after a preliminary hearing ...
convictions for sexual crimes against children (Schedule 1 Offence under CRA) * "Not Eligible" for criminals with more than three offences prosecuted by indictment, each with a prison sentence of two or more years. Applicants for a record suspension must be able to show that they have completed their sentences in full and provide proof of payment. Individuals can apply for a pardon by filling out the application forms available from the Parole Board and by paying a $631 pardon application fee.


Clemency

In Canada, clemency is granted by the
Governor-General of Canada The governor general of Canada (french: le gouverneur général du Canada) is the federal viceregal representative of the . The , as a political sovereign, is shared equally with the 15 other Commonwealth realms and the 10 provinces of Canada, ...
or the
Governor in Council The King-in-Council or the Queen-in-Council, depending on the gender of the reigning monarch, is a constitutional term in a number of states. In a general sense, it would mean the monarch exercising executive authority, usually in the form of app ...
(the federal cabinet) under the
royal prerogative of mercy In the English and British tradition, the royal prerogative of mercy is one of the historic royal prerogatives of the British monarch, by which he or she can grant pardons (informally known as a royal pardon) to convicted persons. The royal prer ...
. Applications are also made to the National Parole Board, as in pardons, but clemency may involve the commutation of a sentence, or the remission of all or part of the sentence, a respite from the sentence (for a
medical condition A disease is a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure or function of all or part of an organism, and that is not due to any immediate external injury. Diseases are often known to be medical conditions that are ...
or a
relief Relief is a sculptural technique where the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of the same material. The term ''relief'' is from the Latin verb ''relevo'', to raise. To create a sculpture in relief is to give the impression th ...
from a prohibition (e.g., to allow someone to drive who has been prohibited from driving).


Chile

In
Chile Chile (, ; ), officially the Republic of Chile (), is a country in western South America. It occupies a long, narrow strip of land between the Andes to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Chile covers an area of and has a population ...
, the institution of pardon (''indulto'') is regulated in the
Criminal Code A criminal code (or penal code) is a document that compiles all, or a significant amount of, a particular jurisdiction's criminal law. Typically a criminal code will contain offences that are recognised in the jurisdiction, penalties that might b ...
(article 93, Nº 4º), which deals with the extinction of criminal liability. A pardon "only grants the remission or the commutation of the sentence; it does not remove the condition of having been condemned". The pardon may be either general, when it is granted to all those covered by a specific law passed by qualified quorum in National Congress, or particular, when it is granted by Supreme Decree of the President of the Republic. In Chile's presidential regime, the President is the
Head of State A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a stateFoakes, pp. 110–11 "he head of statebeing an embodiment of the State itself or representatitve of its international persona." in its unity and legitim ...
; in this capacity, he or she has the discretionary power to grant particular pardons. He or she is not obliged to seek opinion or approval from other authorities, although, the granting of pardons is limited by the norms of Law No. 18.050 (1981), and its Regulations (Decree No. 1542 of 1981 on particular pardons), which forbid particular pardons for those convicted of a crime of terrorism.


China

The year 1954 China Constitution stipulated amnesty and pardon, both of which were decided by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and issued by the President. The later three constitutions of the years 1975, 1978, and 1982 all removed amnesty and only kept pardon. In China, the pardon was decided by the National Standing Committee of the People's Congress and issued by the President.


Egypt

On September 23, 2015, president
Abdel Fattah el-Sisi Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi; (born 19 November 1954) is an Egyptian politician who is the sixth and current President of Egypt, former Director of Military Intelligence, former Minister of Defence, and former General. Starting 1 ...

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
issued a pardon freeing 100 activists, including
Al Jazeera Al Jazeera ( ar, الجزيرة, translit-std=DIN, translit=al-jazīrah, , literally "The Island", though referring to the Arabian Peninsula in context) is an international Arabic news channel based in Doha, Qatar that is operated by the media co ...
journalists
Mohamed Fahmy Mohamed Fadel Fahmy ( ar, محمد فاضل فهمي ; born April 27, 1974) is an Egyptian-born Canadian journalist, war correspondent and author. He has worked extensively in the Middle East, North Africa, for CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera English. ...
and Baher Mohamed.


France

Pardons and acts of clemency (''grâces'') are granted by the
President of France The president of France, officially the president of the French Republic (french: Président de la République française), is the head of state and head of executive of France as well as the commander-in-chief of the French Armed Forces. The F ...
, who, ultimately, is the sole judge of the propriety of the measure. It is a prerogative of the President which is directly inherited from that of the Kings of France. The convicted person sends a request for pardon to the President of the Republic. The
prosecutor A prosecutor is a legal representative of the prosecution in countries with either the common law adversarial system or the civil law inquisitorial system. The prosecution is the legal party responsible for presenting the case in a criminal trial a ...
of the court that pronounced the verdict reports on the case, and the case goes to the
Ministry of JusticeA Ministry of Justice is a common type of government department that serves as a justice ministry. Lists of current ministries of justice Named "Ministry" * Ministry of Justice (Abkhazia) * Ministry of Justice (Afghanistan) * Ministry of Justice ...
's directorate of criminal affairs and pardons for further consideration. If granted, the
decree A decree is a rule of law usually issued by a head of state (such as the president of a republic or a monarch), according to certain procedures (usually established in a constitution). It has the force of law. The particular term used for this conce ...
of pardon is signed by the President, the
Prime Minister#REDIRECT Prime minister#REDIRECT Prime minister {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{R from other capitalisation ...
, the Minister of Justice, and possibly other ministers involved in the consideration of the case. It is not published in the ''
Journal Officiel A journal, from the Old French ''journal'' (meaning "daily"), may refer to: *Bullet journal, a method of personal organizations *Diary, a record of what happened over the course of a day or other period *Daybook, also known as a general journal, a ...
''. The decree may spare the applicant from serving the balance of his or her sentence, or commute the sentence to a lesser one. It does not suppress the right for the victim of the crime to obtain compensation for the
damages At common law, damages are a remedy in the form of a monetary award to be paid to a claimant as compensation for loss or injury. To warrant the award, the claimant must show that a breach of duty has caused foreseeable loss. To be recognised at l ...
it suffered, and does not erase the condemnation from the
criminal record A criminal record, police record, or colloquially rap sheet is a record of a person's criminal history. The information included in a criminal record and the existence of a criminal record varies between countries and even between jurisdictions w ...
. When the
death penalty Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the state-sanctioned killing of a person as punishment for a crime. The sentence ordering that someone is punished with the death penalty is called a death sentence, and the act of carr ...
was in force in France, all capital sentences resulted in a presidential review for a possible clemency. Executions were carried out if and only if the President rejected clemency, by signing a document on which it was written: "decides to let justice take its course". The
Parliament of France The French Parliament (french: Parlement français) is the bicameral legislature of the French Republic, consisting of the Senate () and the National Assembly (). Each assembly conducts legislative sessions at a separate location in Paris: the ...
, on occasions, grants
amnesty Amnesty (from the Greek ἀμνηστία ''amnestia'', "forgetfulness, passing over") is defined as "A pardon extended by the government to a group or class of people, usually for a political offense; the act of a sovereign power officially forgiv ...
. This is a different concept and procedure from that described above, although the phrase "presidential amnesty" (''amnistie présidentielle'') is sometimes pejoratively applied to some acts of parliament traditionally voted upon after a presidential election, granting amnesty for minor crimes.


Germany

Similar to the United States, the right to grant pardon in
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , languages_type = Official language , languages = German , demonym = German , government_type = Federal parliamentary republi ...
is divided between the federal and the state level. Federal jurisdiction in matters of criminal law is mostly restricted to appeals against decisions of state courts. Only "political" crimes like treason or terrorism are tried on behalf of the federal government by the highest state courts. Accordingly, the category of persons eligible for a federal pardon is rather narrow. The right to grant a federal pardon lies in the office of the
President of Germany The president of Germany, officially the Federal President of the Federal Republic of Germany (german: Bundespräsident der Bundesrepublik Deutschland),The official title within Germany is ', with ' being added in international correspondence; t ...
, but he or she can transfer this power to other persons, such as the chancellor or the minister of justice. In early 2007, there was a widespread public discussion about the granting of pardons in Germany after convicted
Red Army Faction The Red Army Faction (RAF, ; , ),See the section "Name" also known as the Baader–Meinhof Group or Baader–Meinhof Gang (, ), was a West German far-left militant organization founded in 1970. Key early figures included Andreas Baader, Ulrike ...
terrorist Christian Klar, who was serving six consecutive sentences of life imprisonment, filed a petition for pardon. President
Horst Köhler Horst Köhler (; born 22 February 1943) is a German politician of the Christian Democratic Union, and served as President of Germany from 2004 to 2010. As the candidate of the two Christian Democratic sister parties, the CDU and the CSU, and the ...

Horst Köhler
ultimately denied his request. Following a court decision, Klar was released on parole in December 2008. For all other (and therefore the vast majority of) convicts, pardons are in the jurisdiction of the states. In some states it is granted by the respective cabinet, but in most states the state constitution vests the authority in the state prime minister. As on the federal level, the authority may be transferred.
Amnesty Amnesty (from the Greek ἀμνηστία ''amnestia'', "forgetfulness, passing over") is defined as "A pardon extended by the government to a group or class of people, usually for a political offense; the act of a sovereign power officially forgiv ...
can be granted only by federal law.


Greece

The
Constitution of Greece The Constitution of Greece ( el, Σύνταγμα της Ελλάδας, ''Syntagma tis Elladas''), was created by the Fifth Revisionary Parliament of the Hellenes in 1974, after the fall of the Greek military junta and the start of the Third Helleni ...
grants the power of pardon to the President of the Republic (Art. 47, § 1). He/She can pardon, commute or remit punishment imposed by any court, on the proposal of the Minister of Justice and after receiving the opinion (not the consent necessarily) of the Pardon Committee.


Hong Kong

Prior to the transfer of the sovereignty in 1997, the power of pardon was the
royal prerogative of mercy In the English and British tradition, the royal prerogative of mercy is one of the historic royal prerogatives of the British monarch, by which he or she can grant pardons (informally known as a royal pardon) to convicted persons. The royal prer ...
of the
monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2001. p. 707. for life or until abdication, and therefore the head of state of a monarchy. A monarch may exercise the highest authority and power in t ...
of the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shortha ...
. This was used and cited the most often in cases of convicts who had been given the
death penalty Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the state-sanctioned killing of a person as punishment for a crime. The sentence ordering that someone is punished with the death penalty is called a death sentence, and the act of carr ...
: from 1965 to 1993 (when the death penalty was formally abolished) death sentences were automatically commuted to life imprisonment under the royal prerogative. Since the transfer, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong now exercises the power to grant pardons and commute penalties under section 12 of article 48 Basic Law of Hong Kong. "The Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall exercise the following powers and functions ... to pardon persons convicted of criminal offences or commute their penalties".


India

Under the Constitution of India (Article 72), the President of India can grant a pardon or Commutation of sentence, reduce the sentence of a convicted person, particularly in cases involving capital punishment. A similar and parallel power vests in the Governors of India, governors of each state under Article 161. The Constitution of India vests sovereign power in the president and governors. The governance in the centre and states is carried out in the name of the president and governor respectively. The president is empowered with the power to pardon under Article 72 of the Indian Constitution. Article 72 says that the president shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence. The meaning of these terms is as follows: The pardoning powers of the Indian President are elucidated in Art 72 of the Indian Constitution. There are five different types of pardoning which are mandated by law. # Pardon: means completely absolving the person of the crime and letting him go free. The pardoned criminal will be like a normal citizen. # Commutation: means changing the type of punishment given to the guilty into a less harsh one, for example, a death penalty commuted to a life sentence. # Reprieve: means a delay allowed in the execution of a sentence, usually a death sentence, for a guilty person to allow him some time to apply for Presidential Pardon or some other legal remedy to prove his innocence or successful rehabilitation. # Respite: means reducing the quantum or degree of the punishment to a criminal in view of some special circumstances, like pregnancy, mental condition etc. # Remission: means changing the quantum of the punishment without changing its nature, for example reducing twenty year rigorous imprisonment to ten years. Article 72 reads: Similarly, as per article 161: Governor of a State has the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the state extends. Please note that President can grant pardon to a person awarded death sentence. But a governor of a state does not enjoy this power. The question is whether this power to grant pardon is absolute or this power of pardon shall be exercised by the President on the advice of Council of Ministers. The pardoning power of the president is not absolute. It is governed by the advice of the Council of Ministers. This has not been discussed by the constitution but is the practical truth. Further, the constitution does not provide for any mechanism to question the legality of decisions of President or governors exercising mercy jurisdiction. But the SC in Epuru Sudhakar case has given a small window for judicial review of the pardon powers of President and governors for the purpose of ruling out any arbitrariness. The court has earlier held that court has retained the power of judicial review even on a matter which has been vested by the Constitution solely in the Executive. However, it is important to note that India has a unitary legal system and there is no separate body of state law. All crimes are crimes against the Union of India. Therefore, a convention has developed that the governor's powers are exercised for only minor offenses, while requests for pardons and reprieves for major offenses and offenses committed in the Union Territories are deferred to the President. Both the President and Governor are bound by the advice of their respective Councils of Ministers and hence the exercise of this power is of an executive character. It is therefore subject to Judicial Review as held by the Supreme Court of India in the case of . It was subsequently confirmed by . In the case of , it was held that "clemency is subject to judicial review and that it cannot be dispensed as a privilege or act of grace". The court made these observation while quashing the decision of then Governor of Andhra Pradesh Sushil Kumar Shinde in commuting the sentence of a convicted Congress activist.


Iran

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Supreme Leader of Iran, Supreme Leader has the power to pardon and offer clemency under Article 110, § 1, §§ 11.


Ireland


Constitutional basis

The Constitution of Ireland, Irish constitution states (in Article 13.6) that The power of clemency is nominally exercised by the president. However, the President of Ireland must act "on the advice" of the Government (cabinet), so in practice the clemency decisions are made by the government of the day and the president has no discretion in the matter. The responsibility can also be delegated to people or bodies other than the president. Amnesty and immunity, on the other hand, are usually dealt with by an Act of the Oireachtas rather than by a general form of pardon or a slate of individual pardons. There are two methods by which a pardon may proceed:


Method I

In the first procedure, aimed at miscarriages of justice, the Minister for Justice may recommend to the Government that they formally advise the President to grant a pardon, and any conditions along with it. 1993 Criminal Procedure Act provides the method by which a person convicted of an offence may apply for a pardon. Under this procedure, the person must: * Have already been convicted. * Have used up their appeals. * Allege a new fact (previously known and believed to be significant, but which he has a reasonable excuse for not having mentioned) or newly discovered fact (including a fact previously known which was not believed to be significant) showing a miscarriage of justice has taken place. Then they can apply in writing to the Minister for Justice for a pardon. The minister may then "make or cause to be made such inquiries as they consider necessary" and may refuse to grant the pardon on his/her own initiative, or if they think the person should be pardoned, bring such argument to cabinet.


Method II

Section six of the act allows a Minister for Justice to seek or receive a pardon request from someone whose case is not a 'miscarriage of justice', but has some other fault, such as an archaic law, a law being misapplied by a rogue judge, a reduction in the harshness of a sentence or a substitution of a sentence, without having to go through the procedure above, gone through appeals, or presented new facts. It also allows the minister to waive the procedure in a case of miscarriage of justice if the specific case warrants it. It may also allow prospective pardons as it allows the minister to pardon someone who has not been convicted yet, which the other procedure requires.


Committee of Inquiry

The government itself may assemble a committee to study the case in more detail on their behalf. This may consist of anyone, and any number, but the chair must be: * A judge or former judge or * A barrister of at least 10 years standing or * A solicitor of at least 10 years standing. This special committee may look to any material it sees fit to make its decision, even if it was not, or would not be, available to a jury or trial judge in a normal court. The government do not have to be bound by the committee recommendations.


Pardons under military law

Under Section 7(5) of the act, the same powers of the Minister for Justice apply to the Minister for Defence in the case of military officers and enlisted convicted by courts martial.


Compensation

The Minister for Justice or Defence may also, in their absolute discretion, pay compensation, determined by them alone, to any person given a pardon, if this compensation is applied for. If they think the compensation is too low they may challenge for a higher figure in the High Court.


List of people who have received a presidential pardon since 1938

The power is used very infrequently compared to, for example, pardons in the United States. * 1940 – Thomas Quinn, granted by Douglas Hyde * 1943 – Walter Brady, granted by Douglas Hyde * 1992 – Nicky Kelly, granted by Mary Robinson * 1999 – William Geary, granted by Mary McAleese


Israel

In Israel the President of Israel, President has the power to pardon criminals or commute their sentences. The President's pardon powers are set out in the Basic Laws of Israel. The pardon is given following a recommendation by the Justice Minister of Israel, Minister of Justice. After the Kav 300 affair, President Chaim Herzog issued a pardon to four members of the Shin Bet prior to them being Indictment, indicted. This unusual act was the first of its kind in Israel.


Italy

In Italy, the President of the Italian Republic, President of the Republic may "grant pardons, or commute punishments" according to article 87 of the Italian Constitution. Like other acts of the president, the pardon requires the countersignature of the competent government minister. The Constitutional Court of Italy has ruled that the Minister of Justice is obliged to sign acts of pardon. The pardon may remove the punishment altogether or change its form. Unless the decree of pardon states otherwise, the pardon does not remove any incidental effects of a criminal conviction, such as a mention in a certificate of conduct (174 c.p.) or the loss of civil rights. According to article 79 of the Italian Constitution the Parliament may grant amnesty (article 151 c.p.) and pardon (article 174 c.p.) by law deliberated a majority of two-thirds of the components. The last general pardon, discounting 3 years from sentences, was approved in 2006.


Poland

In Poland, the President of the Republic of Poland, President is granted the right of pardon by Article 139 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland. As of October 2008, 7,819 people were pardoned, while 3,046 people's appeals were declined. * Lech Wałęsa ** Approved – 3,454 ** Declined – 384 * Aleksander Kwaśniewski ** Approved – 3,295 (the first term); 795 (the second term); total – 4,090 ** Declined – 993 (the first term); 1,317 (the second term); total – 2,310 * Lech Kaczyński ** Approved – 201 ** Declined – 913 * Bronisław Komorowski ** Approved – 219 ** Declined – 189


Portugal

In Portugal, the Heads of State – Kings or Presidents – have always enjoyed the prerogative of grace, being able to grant pardons, commuting or extinguishing sentences in the context of requests for clemency. According to the Constitution of Portugal, Portuguese Constitution, the President of Portugal, President of the Portuguese Republic has the power to pardon and commute sentences, on the proposal of the Government of Portugal, Government of the Portuguese Republic. This is the exclusive and discretionary competence of the President and is not subject to any conditions beyond the prior hearing of the Government, generally represented by the Ministry of Justice (Portugal), Minister of Justice. Requests or proposals for pardons are instructed by the Criminal Execution Court by referral from the Ministry of Justice (Portugal), Ministry of Justice and subsequently submitted to the President for consideration. The pardon is granted by Presidential Decree; if the pardon is denied, the President decides by order. Traditionally pardons are granted during the Christmas period. The pardon can be revoked by the President of the Republic. In 2019 the President granted two pardons. The pardon, as an individual, shall not be confused with amnesty or generic forgiveness, both of a general and abstract nature. Amnesty has retroactive effects, affecting not only the penalty applied but the past criminal act itself, which is forgotten, considered as not practiced (retroactive abolition of crime). Generic forgiveness focuses only on the penalties determined by the sentencing decision and for the future. It is the reserved competence of the Assembly of the Republic (Portugal), Portuguese Parliamnent to approve generic amnesties and pardons.


Russia

The President of the Russian Federation is granted the right of pardon by Article 89 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation. The chain of pardon committees manage lists of people eligible for pardon and directs them to the President for signing. While President Boris Yeltsin frequently used his power of pardon (1998 – 7,000 to 8,000 cases), his successor Vladimir Putin is much more hesitant; he granted five pardons in 2014 and two in 2015. A pardon can be requested at any time. Although a one year waiting period is required between requests.Указ Президента РФ от 28 декабря 2001 г. № 1500 «О комиссиях по вопросам помилования на территориях субъектов Российской Федерации»; «Положение о порядке рассмотрения ходатайств о помиловании в Российской Федерации»


Rwanda

The prerogative of mercy is a form of pardon that can be exercised by the President of Rwanda. The prerogative is one of the powers of the president defined by the Constitution of Rwanda, which came into effect in 2003 following a national referendum. According to the Constitution of Rwanda, "The President of the Republic has authority to exercise the prerogative of mercy in accordance with the procedure determined by law and after consulting the Supreme Court on the matter."


Republic of South Africa

Under section 84(2)(j) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (Act 108 of 1996), the President of the Republic of South Africa is responsible for pardoning or reprieving offenders. This power of the President is only exercised in highly exceptional cases. To pardon a person is to forgive a person for his/her deeds. The pardon process is therefore not available to persons who maintain their innocence and is not an advanced form of appeal procedure. Pardon is only granted for minor offences after a period of ten years has elapsed since the relevant conviction. For many serious offences (for example if the relevant court viewed the offence in such a serious light that direct imprisonment was imposed) pardon will not be granted even if more than ten years have elapsed since the conviction.


Spain

The ''derecho de gracia'' ("right of grace") or ''indulto'' ("pardon") is acknowledged by the Spanish Constitution of 1978 as a privilege of the King of Spain (article 62.i: "Functions of the King"). The Spanish Constitution defines it as a renunciation on the State's part of its own punitive power on behalf of an individual, founded on reasons of equity or public interest. The Constitution subjects royal pardons to the law and forbids general pardons, so they have to be granted individually. Theoretically, a royal pardon can be granted for a general offense or accessory offenses alone; if it is granted for a general offense, the accessory ones it implies are also pardoned, with the exception of punishments involving political rights (i.e., removal of the right to run for a public office as a result of a sentence), which have to be explicitly mentioned in the pardon decree if they are going to be pardoned. The procedure and requirements for the grant of the pardon are given by the Law of 18 June 1870, modified by the Law 1/1988 of 14 January. The application for royal pardon has to be carried out by the convicted person himself, his relatives or any other person in his name. The convicting court will then issue a report of the case, which shall be considered along with the public comments of the Prosecutor and the victims of the crime if there were any. All of this is gathered by the Minister of Justice, who will present the pardon issue to the Cabinet of Ministers. If the Cabinet decides a pardon should be granted, then the Minister of Justice will recommend as such to the King. Pardons are issued by Royal Decree and have to be published in the ("Public Journal"). Pardons are not commonly conceded in Spain but for offenders convicted for minor crimes who are about to complete their sentence and have shown good behaviour and repentance. Dating back to medieval times, several organisations and religious brotherhoods still hold the right of granting pardons as part of some privilege or other granted to them by the King of Spain. The scope of this privilege depends on the royal charter received by the organisation when their right to concede pardons was granted, though it usually holds only for minor offenses in very especial conditions; this right is implicitly acknowledged by the public offices nowadays, though it is not exercised but following the usual procedure for royal pardons. Traditionally, they will propose some petty criminal about to end his sentence for pardon being granted to him, and he/she will be released following the tradition to which the pardon holds, usually during the Holy Week. This type of pardons are distinguished from the usual ones in that they only release the prisoner from jail, halting the sentence, but do not pardon the offense itself.


Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, under the Sri Lankan Constitution the President of Sri Lanka, President can grant a pardon, respite or substitute a less severe form of punishment for any punishment imposed to any offender convicted of any offence in any court within the Republic of Sri Lanka. It is generally referred to as a ''Presidential pardon''.


Switzerland

In Switzerland, pardons may be granted by the Swiss Federal Assembly for crimes prosecuted by the Federal administration of Switzerland, federal authorities. For crimes under Cantons of Switzerland, cantonal jurisdiction, cantonal law designates the authority competent to grant pardons (if any). In most cantons, the cantonal parliament may pardon felonies, and the cantonal government may pardon misdemeanors and minor infractions.


Turkey

The president of Turkey is granted the right of pardon under certain circumstances defined in the Constitution of Turkey, constitution, article 104. According to the article, the president can "remit, on grounds of chronic illness, disability, or old age, all or part of the sentences imposed on certain individuals". After the convict's or his or her proxy's application, if the Council of Forensic Medicine determines that the convict suffers from chronic illness, disability, or old age, the Ministry of Justice (Turkey), Ministry of Justice presents the situation to the president, and the president can choose to grant a pardon. Additionally, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, parliament of Turkey has the power to announce general amnesty.


United Kingdom

The power to grant pardons and reprieves in the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shortha ...
is known as the
royal prerogative of mercy In the English and British tradition, the royal prerogative of mercy is one of the historic royal prerogatives of the British monarch, by which he or she can grant pardons (informally known as a royal pardon) to convicted persons. The royal prer ...
. It was traditionally in the absolute power of the monarch to pardon an individual for a crime, whether or not he or she had been convicted, and thereby commute any penalty; the power was then delegated both to the judiciary and the sovereign's ministers. Since the creation of legal rights of appeal, the royal prerogative of mercy is no longer exercised by the person of the sovereign, or by the judiciary, but only by the government. In constitutional terms, under the doctrine of the rule of law, the power of ministers to overrule the judiciary by commuting criminal sanctions imposed resolves different and sometimes conflicting public interests. In civil matters, only the legislative branch, and not ministers, have the power to override the judiciary. Until the nineteenth century, for many crimes the sentence was mandatory and was formally pronounced in court immediately upon conviction, but judges and ministers were given powers to exercise the royal prerogative of mercy out of court, in order to mitigate the rigour of the law. Before there was any general form of criminal appeal, a judge might grant a pardon either by way of clemency, because he felt in his opinion that the law was unduly harsh (for example, in the case of convictions of minors), that the verdict was dubious, to seek public approval, or it was otherwise in the public interest. Capital sentences imposed by the assizes were generally executed when the assize was concluded and as the circuit judge left the town, so there was a limited window of time to apply to a judge or directly to the Crown for a pardon. Especially for assizes that were far away from the then capital and major cities of London, York, Durham, England, Durham, Edinburgh, or Dublin, a pardon might well arrive too late. Perhaps as a form of temporary punishment, to give solace, to avoid public disorder, to consult or obtain further evidence, or to maximise the public approval of the King's mercy, judges often did not grant their pardons until their departures; the convict often hoped until his last moments that the sentence of death would not actually be executed, and it was generally popular for a reprieve to arrive at the scaffold at the very moment of the execution. Conditional pardons were granted to many in the 18th century, in return for Penal transportation, transportation to British colonies overseas for life in lieu, especially to the Australia, Australian colonies. The first known ''general pardon'' in post-Norman conquest of England, Conquest England was issued during the celebrations at the coronation of Edward III of England, King Edward III in 1327. In 2006, all soldiers from England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland who were executed for cowardice during the First World War were given a statutory pardon by an Act of Parliament (the Armed Forces Act 2006), following a long-running controversy about the justice of their executions. Today the sovereign only grants pardons upon the advice of her ministers: currently they are the Lord Chancellor, for England and Wales; the First Minister of Scotland; or the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. The Secretary of State for Defence is responsible for military cases. It is the standard policy of the government to only grant pardons to those who are considered "morally" innocent of the offence, as opposed to those who may have been wrongly convicted by a misapplication of the law. Pardons are generally no longer issued prior to a conviction, but only after the conviction. The use of the royal prerogative of mercy is now a rare occurrence, given that the Criminal Cases Review Commission and the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission are now avenues to statutory remedies against miscarriages of justice. Therefore, the grant of pardons is now very rare occurrence indeed, and the vast majority of :Overturned convictions in the United Kingdom, acknowledged miscarriages of justice were decided upon by the courts. During the Birmingham Six case, Home Secretary Douglas Hurd stressed that he could only make the decision for a pardon if he was "convinced of [their] innocence", which at the time he was not. One recent case was that of two drug smugglers, John Haase and Paul Bennett. They were pardoned in July 1996 from their sentences of imprisonment both of 18 years, having served some ten months, on the advice of Home Secretary Michael Howard. This was intended as a reward for their information given to the authorities, but there were speculations as to the motives of the Home Secretary. In 2008 they were sentenced to imprisonment for 20 and 22 years, respectively, after subsequent discovery that the information they gave was unreliable. In 1980, after the courts had dismissed their appeals, the Home Secretary, William Whitelaw, used the royal prerogative of mercy to free David Cooper and Michael McMahon from their imprisonment, both having been convicted of murder on poor evidence. Under the Act of Settlement 1701, a pardon cannot prevent a person from being Impeachment in the United Kingdom, impeached by Parliament, but a pardon may commute any penalties imposed for the conviction. In England and Wales no person may be pardoned for an offence under Section 11 of the Habeas Corpus Act 1679 (unlawfully transporting prisoners out of England and Wales).


United States


U.S. Constitution

In the United States, the pardon power for offenses against the United States is granted to the President of the United States under Article Two of the United States Constitution#Clause 1: Command of military; Opinions of cabinet secretaries; Pardons, Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution which states that the President "shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment". The Supreme Court of the United States, U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted this language to include the power to grant pardons, conditional pardons, commutations of sentence, conditional commutations of sentence, remissions of fines and forfeitures, Respite (law), respites, and Amnesty, amnesties. The pardon power of the President applies only to convictions under United States federal law, federal law. Additionally, the power extends to military court-martial cases as well as convictions in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Almost all pardon petitions are addressed to the President, who grants or denies the request. In some cases, the President will, of his own accord, issue a pardon. Typically, applications for pardons are referred for review and non-binding recommendation by the Office of the Pardon Attorney, an official of the United States Department of Justice.


State law

The Governor (United States), governors of most U.S. states have the power to grant pardons or reprieves for offenses under state criminal law. In other states, that power is committed to an appointed agency or board, or to a board and the governor in some hybrid arrangement (in some states the agency is merged with that of the parole board, as in the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board). Nine states in the United States have Parole board, boards of pardons and paroles that exclusively grant all state pardons. These states are: Alabama (Board of Pardons and Paroles), Connecticut (Board of Pardons and Paroles), Georgia (Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles, Board of Pardons and Paroles), Idaho (Commission of Pardons and Paroles), Minnesota (Minnesota Board of Pardons, Board of Pardons), Nebraska (Board of Pardons), Nevada (Board of Pardon Commissioners), South Carolina (South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services, Board of Probation, Parole and Pardon), and Utah (Board of Pardons and Parole). On at least three occasions, state governorsToney Anaya of New Mexico in 1986, George Ryan of Illinois in 2003, and Martin O'Malley of Maryland in 2014have commuted all death sentences in their respective states prior to leaving office.


Related concepts

These terms differ subtly from country to country, but generally: * Clemency is a general concept of amelioration of penalties, especially by action of executive officials; the forms it may take include the following: **
Amnesty Amnesty (from the Greek ἀμνηστία ''amnestia'', "forgetfulness, passing over") is defined as "A pardon extended by the government to a group or class of people, usually for a political offense; the act of a sovereign power officially forgiv ...
: A pardon applied to a group of people rather than an individual. President Jimmy Carter offered amnesty to anyone who had Draft evasion#Vietnam War, evaded the draft. Weapon amnesties are often granted so that people can hand in weapons to the police without any legal questions being asked as to where they obtained them, why they had them, etc. After a civil war a mass amnesty may be granted to absolve all participants of guilt and "move on". Amnesties are typically applied in advance of any prosecution for the crime. ** Commutation (law), Commutation: Substituting the imposed penalty for a crime with a lesser penalty, whilst still remaining guilty of the original crime (e.g., someone who is guilty of murder may have their sentence commuted to life imprisonment rather than death, or the term of imprisonment may be reduced). ** Remission: Complete or partial cancellation of the penalty, whilst still being considered guilty of said crime (i.e., reduced penalty). (This should not be confused with what is known in USA as remission of Remand (court procedure), remand, in which a case is sent back to a lower court from which it was appealed, with instructions as to what further proceedings should be held.) ** Reprieve (death sentence), Reprieve: Temporary postponement of a punishment, usually so that the accused can mount an appeal (especially if he or she has been Reprieve (death sentence), sentenced to death). See also ** Respite (law), Respite: The delay of an ordered sentence, or the act of ''temporarily'' imposing a ''lesser sentence'' upon the convicted, whilst further investigation, action, or appeals can be conducted. * Expungement: The process by which the record of a criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed from the official repository, thus removing any traces of guilt or conviction. * Immunity from prosecution: A
prosecutor A prosecutor is a legal representative of the prosecution in countries with either the common law adversarial system or the civil law inquisitorial system. The prosecution is the legal party responsible for presenting the case in a criminal trial a ...
may grant immunity, usually to a witness, in exchange for testimony or production of other evidence. The prosecutor (conditionally) agrees not to prosecute a crime that the witness might have committed in exchange for said evidence. For example, a car thief who witnesses a murder might be granted immunity for his crime as an inducement to identify, and perhaps to truthfully testify against the murderer. * Legal immunity, Other immunity: Several other types of immunity are available, depending on the status of a person as a member of the government. Some criminals who testify for the prosecution put their life in jeopardy by doing so. To encourage witnesses to testify, the government may offer witness protection. In the United States Federal Witness Protection Program, about "95% of [witnesses in the program] are ... criminals."Inside the witness protection program
" Gabriel Falcon, CNN, February 16, 2013.
Those who testify for the prosecution may be offered immunity from prosecution for their own crimes.


See also

* Apostolic Pardon * ''Ius strictum'' * Rule of Law * Sacrament of Penance (Reconciliation; Catholic and some other related churches)


References


External links


International Center for Transitional Justice, Criminal Justice page
{{Authority control Clemency Legal terminology Pardons Penology