[EDITORIALS]Reform the amnesty lawUri Party chairman Moon Hee-sang said he would suggest to the president that he grant a mass amnesty on Liberation Day, Aug. 15. He said the hopeful beneficiaries would be those who committed minor offenses, such as traffic law violations. Another group would be those charged with illegal fund-raising during the 2002 presidential campaign.
The ruling party explains this mass amnesty as a means to unite the nation on its 60th Liberation Day. That is why it is considering granting amnesty for minor offenses. In the current situation where almost every social issue stirs up controversy, a measure to unite ideologies, regions and classes is needed.
However, we wonder how effective this would be in uniting the nation. Some are saying it is merely an act to save politicians involved in illegal fund-raising. Despite this, lawmakers of the ruling party insist they cannot exclude politicians by the principle of equality under the law.
Of course, amnesty is a prerogative of the president under the constitution. But this does not allow the president to use that power whenever he pleases. It not only weakens the administration of justice but it also reduces the law-abiding spirit of the public.
Especially in cases where amnesty is granted to all those convicted of a designated crime, people who have paid their debt to society according to the law may feel discriminated against. In addition, if the target is expanded to include people with poor credit who have not paid their debts, who would want to repay their debts? The administration has to accept the criticism that this plan is aimed at the elections.
Opposition lawmakers are now discussing matters to reform the amnesty law. One such reform suggests that the consent of the National Assembly be needed before an amnesty is processed for criminals who have not served a certain amount of time in jail. The reform includes informing the National Assembly of the names of the hopeful amnesty beneficiaries along with their crimes. Some people insist that people involved in corruption, bribery and violating election laws should be excluded as candidates for amnesty or from having their rights restored. If people are put at disadvantage when observing the law, the government is not a constitutional one. Measures are needed to reform the amnesty law to prevent the possibility of abuse.