Hong Kong authorities are looking into the possibility of granting amnesty to some of those arrested over the city’s ongoing anti-government protests, but only after they have passed through the judicial system, a local broadcaster has reported.
Citing anonymous sources, public broadcaster RTHK reported that if the proposal were to go ahead, decisions on amnesty would be made on a case-by-case basis after those individuals have gone through the courts and been convicted, not under a blanket amnesty as protesters have demanded.
The outlet reported that the idea was based on article 48 of the Basic Law, which gives the chief executive the power to “pardon persons convicted of criminal offences or commute their penalties.”
The sources added that such a plan also couldn’t be announced beforehand, as doing so “would affect the rule of law,” raising questions as to how, or whether, it would satisfy protesters’ demands. There also couldn’t be a “one size fits all” approach to amnesty, the sources said, and decisions on amnesty would be made based on “unified and objective standards.”
Replying to an inquiry by the public broadcaster, the Chief Executive’s Office confirmed the Basic Law grants the chief executive the power to pardon and reduce the penalties of criminal offenders. At the same time, however, it said it didn’t wish to issue any false information that criminal offenders are to be pardoned.
Amnesty for those arrested in the city’s ongoing protests has been one of pro-democracy demonstrators’ key demands almost since the movement began in earnest more than four months ago, along with greater accountability for police and universal suffrage in choosing the city’s leaders.