An amnesty usually means a fixed period of time during which people are not punished for committing a particular crime, such as rioting. A pardon used this way means to officially forgive people for committing certain crimes after they have already been found guilty in court. Two legal scholars recently explained the difference between the two words very succinctly, which means briefly but clearly. They said pardon forgives, amnesty forgets. The expression "pardon forgives" means the head of a government can forgive a criminal's crime by pardoning, or forgiving, that person after that person has already been found guilty by the court. The expression "amnesty forgets" means the head of a government can forget the crime of a person by not charging that person.
Even though the two words have different meanings they are often intermingled, which means mixed together. One of the five demands of the protest movement is an amnesty, not a pardon. The movement wants the government to release the nearly 6,000 protesters who have been arrested so far without taking them to court. They do not want a pardon because that means the arrested people must first be taken to court and found guilty before being released. As chief executive, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has the power to pardon people who have been found guilty. The government also has the power to grant an amnesty even though Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor insists she does not have that power.
An amnesty通常是指，在某一特定時間內，人們不會因為違反某一罪行，例如暴動，而被刑事起訴；a pardon在這裏則是指，在人們犯下了某些罪行並已在法庭被定罪後，獲得正式赦免及免除服刑。兩位法律學者最近就非常簡潔地（succinctly）解釋過這兩個字。他們說“pardon forgives, amnesty forgets.＂ 習語pardon forgives即是當犯人被法庭定罪後，一個政府之首可以透過赦免（pardoning），或說原諒，的方式去免除那人的罪責；習語amnesty forgets則是指一個政府之首可以忘卻某人的罪行，就是不起訴那人。雖然這兩個字有不同的意思，它們卻常被混合使用（intermingled）。抗議運動的五大訴求之一，是「罪刑皆赦」的大赦（amnesty），而非「赦刑不赦罪」的特赦（pardon）。社會運動人士要求政府釋放至今近六千位被捕的示威者，撤銷其控罪。
Michael Chugani 褚簡寧