Power to pardon changing
The Government plans to transfer the power to pardon convicted criminals to the chief executive under the Adaptation of Laws Bill.
It wants to amend 'her majesty's pardon' to 'the chief executive's pardon' under the Organised and Serious Crime Ordinance.
During the colonial era, the queen was empowered to pardon criminals in Hong Kong.
In a written reply to points raised by independent legislator and barrister Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee on the Adaptation of Laws Bill, the Security Bureau said the authority for the proposed adaptation lay in the Basic Law.
It said the chief executive was empowered under an article of the mini-constitution to pardon criminals.
The power to pardon would be considered on a case by case basis.
But Ms Ng, a member of a Legco committee scrutinising the bill, said the Government had not properly explained circumstances under which such a pardon would be granted.
She wanted to know why it was appropriate for the chief executive to exercise such power.
She said the administration had to explain factors the chief executive would consider when deciding whether to grant pardons.
Solicitor James To Kun-sun of the Democratic Party did not see any problem with the proposed amendment, but said he would keep an open mind on the matter as members had yet to discuss the Government's response.
The bills committee will continue studying the bill tomorrow.