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2017-11-27 16:32
The government is considering a special amnesty during the holiday season for those criminally punished for their participation in political demonstrations.

In particular, the Ministry of Justice requested the prosecution last week to consider special pardons for those convicted in connection with protests over the Jeju Naval Base construction (2009), Yongsan disaster (2009), Miryang transmission tower construction (2011), Sewol ferry sinking (2014) and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system deployment (2017). The demonstrations often ended up in violence with protesters attacking riot police, in addition to causing inconvenience to citizens.

One of the justifications for presidential pardons is promoting national unity. However, some of the prisoners under consideration for special amnesty are questionable, including Han Sang-kyun, the leader of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) who is serving a three-year sentence for charges of leading violent rallies. There is also keen attention on Lee Seok-ki, the leader of the Unified Progressive Party which was dissolved for alleged pro-North Korean views. Lee is currently in jail for charges of instigating an armed rebellion and violating the National Security Law. Public opinion will not be favorable to pardoning figures who have committed such grave offenses.

If the President abuses his or her constitutional right of granting amnesty to demonstrators convicted of violent protests, it will leave a bad precedent for dealing with similar illegal and militant street protests.

The President has the duty to safeguard public order. If Moon pushes ahead with the amnesty, many people will see it as another deep-rooted evil.


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