[EDITORIALS]Be prudent with pardons

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[EDITORIALS]Be prudent with pardons

The Millennium Democratic Party has proposed to President Kim Dae-jung that a special pardon be granted on Aug. 15, National Liberation Day. The party proposed that pardons be granted to those who have broken labor or minor election laws, or committed minor offenses related to their professions.

A pardon instantly annuls the authority and effect of the law and because of this, its many negative side effects should also be taken into consideration. Some even call for the reduction or abolishment of granting pardons because they claim it is an outdated practice in this age when the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the government are separated from one another. This is why the more law-abiding a country is, the more carefully it should consider its granting of pardons.

Our present administration overdoes its granting of pardons. In March 1998, when the new government stepped in, the largest pardon in history granted special and general pardons to more than 5.5 million people. And pardons on Independence Day and National Liberation Day have become almost annual events. Even during this month, 4.8 million traffic law violators have been granted pardons along with 508,000 minor debtors in celebration of the World Cup. Already the public is starting to feel the folly of these pardons. Cases of resisting police checks during drunken driving and traffic law violations, and cases of assaulting police officers have increased significantly since the pardons. It is only a matter of course for this to happen when the government is leading the way in compromising the dignity and equity of laws with its frequent pardons.

Moreover, it is an effrontery of the party to include election law violators among those eligible for the pardons. It is a public consensus that one cannot emphasize enough the importance of strict punishment for election law violations in providing a fair election. Gone are the days when pardons could buy votes. It will be a great mistake for the party to underestimate the level of the voters and try to take advantage of it. Pardons granted for election use will cause more harm than good.
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