The National People's Congress Standing Committee, China's top legislature, reviewed a draft of the resolution during a bimonthly session that started on Monday. The lawmakers voted on it on Saturday.
Li Shishi, director of the committee's legislative affairs commission, made clear while briefing the session that the amnesty is designed to exclude people guilty of embezzlement and bribe-taking, as China continues a campaign against official corruption.
SEVERAL THOUSAND PRISONERS WILL QUALIFY
Judicial authorities have been preparing for the amnesty since May and estimate there are "several thousand qualified prisoners," with the oldest aged 95.
All pardoned prisoners will be released by the end of this year, said Prof. Chu Huaizhi of Peking University, one of the government's consultants on the amnesty.
The exact number of pardoned prisoners will not be known until provincial courts and prisons complete all the amnesty rulings later this year, Chu said, stressing how complicated their decisions will be.
Li urged strict and prudent selection of criminals fit for the amnesty.
Chu said all prisoners who fought in the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the civil war will be more than 80 years old. Their number is very small and they do not pose a threat to society, so they should all be granted amnesty.
This amnesty reflects China's tradition of respecting the elderly and caring for the young, and it is in line with the Criminal Law, which was amended in 2011 to allow leniency in the punishment of the aged, according to the professor.
Gao Mingxuan, honorary president of the China Criminal Law Research Society, said the amnesty "shows respect for human rights."