Difference Between Amnesty and Pardon

Guilt might be one of the hardest feelings for anyone on this earth to deal with. Committing a crime and feeling guilty is one of the hardest feelings that traps a person inside and wraps with guilt making it harder.

Forgiveness is like the key that frees the person from guilt, and it might relieve a person from a great burden.

Amnesty vs Pardon

The main difference between amnesty and pardon is that amnesty is offered to a group of people, whereas pardon is the term used for offering forgiveness to an individual. Both amnesty and pardon are the powers of the supreme authority of a particular country to offer forgiveness to the person who has committed a crime, realized it, and feel guilty for their actions.

Amnesty vs Pardon

Amnesty is the absolute forgiveness usually offered to a group of people. It signifies absolution and forgetfulness.

It s given to the people who have been conceited but have not faced any trial. It is formal and usually used for legal, lawful, and official purposes.

It has its origin from the Roman and Greek laws.

Pardon is a form of shoeing pity and forgiveness, especially for an individual. It is always given only after a judgment is passed for a particular case.

The person gets convicted for their actions, and the criminal record of that individual is maintained no matter what. Pardon has its origin in English.

Comparison Table Between Amnesty and Pardon

Parameters of Comparison 
DefinitionAmnesty is emphasized as absolute and sheer forgetfulness. Pardon is synonymous with showing pity and offering forgiveness.
Offered To It is usually offered to a group of people. It is offered to an individual.
Trial and ConvictionThe people to whom amnesty is offered are not subjected to trial and conviction.  Pardon is offered after the person faces a trial and gets convicted.
Usage and Criminal RecordsIt is used in politics, law, and official places. The criminal record and history of the person are discarded completely.  It is quite an informal method of offering forgiveness. The criminal record and history of the person are not discarded.
OriginIt has its origin from greek and roman laws.  It originated from the English system of laws.

 What is Amnesty?

Amnesty is a policy of offering forgiveness to the people who carry guilt due to their past criminal offenses. It is inspired and derived by the ancient Greek and Roman laws that had similar policies.

It is a law of forgetfulness and oblivion that is offered by the government or the supreme authority. It is a conditional aspect of granting forgiveness, expecting the group of people who committed the crime to pull themselves back together and return to morally acceptable behavior, obedience, and proper genuine duty.

The groups which are offered amnesty are expected to make up for their crime within a time period specified by the supreme authority, or in most cases, the government. Amnesty is granted due to crimes committed in the fields of state such as treason, rebellion, political affairs, and also against the law.

Communities that take after the legislative law, constitution usually include this law and follow this practice. Amnesty has a lot of variance and difference when compared with a pardon.

In amnesty, the criminal records and history of the group are erased, and it is an act of forgetfulness. Amnesty is granted before the person could get convicted.

Here the person also doesn’t face any trials.

What is Pardon?

Pardon is the grant of forgiveness given by the government that gives a person the privilege o relieving himself from the legal consequences that are the result of a criminal conviction. It is usually granted before the person faces the trial and before conviction, and it might differ based on the laws of the jurisdiction.

It is granted in see dark countries across the globe.

Accepting a pardon also means accepting built and accepting their mistake. Nowadays, the cases are handled by asking for appeal rather than pardon.

They aware especially used in eradicating corruption. They are also used in different opinions and situations with controversy.

Pardon is given, making sure the criminal has paid their best by doing something to compensate to the society; otherwise, they are not granted a pardon. It is the executive power possessed by the power of a governor or a president who wished to forgive a person who is charged for an offense that is either illegal or unlawful.

It is also considered as reducing the sentence time period and also reduces the punishment. Giving a pardon doesn’t mean that all the criminal record of the person is not reduced.

Main Differences Between Amnesty and Pardon

  1. Amnesty is absolute forgetfulness, and pardon is forgiveness and an expression of pity.
  2. Amnesty is used when forgiving a mass of people, and pardon is the way to forgive an individual.
  3. Amnesty is offered before the person gets to face a trial or conviction, but a pardon is offered after the conviction.
  4. Criminal records are erased after offering amnesty, whereas, in the case of offering pardon, the history and records are maintained.
  5. The Greek and Roman laws were used as a base to derive the concept of amnesty. Pardon is based on the law system of the English.


Both amnesty and pardon are used to forgive, but they are different from one another in several aspects. It differs based on the people, region, place, and also the time during which it is offered.

Is it before the judgment, after the judgment, before the person gets convicted, or after the person gets convicted?

It also decides if the person’s crime and records of them have been completely washed out or are being retained. These also have their origins from different country’s ancient laws and practices.

An example of a pardon is the one offers to the US president during the Watergate scandal in the year 1974.


  1. https://heinonline.org/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/colhr4&section=31
  2. https://heinonline.org/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/clmr6&section=60
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