Published : 2013-01-30 20:42
Updated : 2013-01-30 20:42
The governing party and opposition are rushing to curtail the power of the president to grant pardons following President Lee Myung-bak’s controversial amnesty on Tuesday of 55 convicted criminals including close allies and former Cabinet members serving time for corruption.
“President Lee Myung-bak’s special pardoning stomps on law and order and represents a shameless, dumbfounding act that utterly ignores the public opinion,” said Moon Hee-sang, the Democratic United Party’s interim leader, during a party meeting Tuesday.
DUP Rep. Lee Jong-kul proposed a bill on Tuesday that would curtail the president’s power to grant clemency to relatives and high-ranking government officials.
“The president’s constitutional right to grant special pardons has been concentrated toward the end of the term on pardoning chaebol owners, corrupt politicians, and close allies who have abused power,” said Lee, the DUP lawmaker. “As a result, questions have been raised regarding objective standards, and the public’s distrust in law and order has been compounded.”
The president’s own party has been equally outspoken in limiting the exercise of presidential clemency.
“President-elect Park Geun-hye has exhibited a strong will against granting pardons to those convicted of corruption, and has thereby spoken in favor of installing an institutional mechanism that would limit the power to grant pardons,” Rep. Lee Cheol-woo of the Saenuri Party told reporters in a briefing.
Lee added that his party would closely examine presidential clemency in other “advanced” countries and amend the law accordingly.
In the U.S., those petitioning for a presidential pardon must wait at least five years. France outlaws granting special pardons to corrupt government officials and politicians. In Germany, a total of four special pardons have been granted over the past 60 years.
In South Korea, nearly 13,000 criminals have received special pardons since 1951.