Partial Remission of Penalties Act (1990)
In September 1990, in the final days of the German Democratic Republic’s existence, the Volkskammer – the GDR parliament – enacted a law which served as a form of amnesty for many prisoners incarcerated in the communist state. Because East Germany was not a democratic country, and courts were not an independent branch of the government, trails were not free or fair. This law thus was a small recompense for those sentenced under this brutal, harsh, and unforgiving regime.
Although the law stated that it was to be enforced by the Council of Ministers of the GDR, this had no practical effect. Mere days after this law’s passage, the German Democratic Republic ceased to exist and passed into history, being reunited with the democratic West Germany, and the East German government therefore was consequently abolished.
Persons who were sentenced to a term of imprisonment by a court of the German Democratic Republic before July 1, 1990, and whose sentence has not yet been completed or has not been completed in full, shall have the term of imprisonment pronounced reduced by one third.
Exempt from the reduction of the penalty are persons who are convicted of:
- Nazi and war crimes or crimes against humanity,
- murder (crimes under section 112 of the Criminal Code) or,
- serious violent or sexual crimes (crimes under sections 116(2), 121(2) and (3), 122(3) and (4), 128(1)(1) to (3) and (5) and (2), 148(2) and (3) of the Criminal Code)
and who have been sentenced.
If a convicted person is subject to several custodial sentences, the provisions of sections 1 and 2 shall apply to each individual custodial sentence.
If the end of the sentence has been reached or exceeded as a result of the reduction of the sentence, the prisoner shall be released from the penitentiary system without delay. The state authorities shall be obliged to take appropriate measures.
A claim for compensation for the term of imprisonment served by the prisoner in excess of two-thirds of the term of imprisonment as a result of the reduction shall be excluded.
The Attorney General of the German Democratic Republic and the Minister of the Interior shall be responsible for the implementation of the provisions made in §§ 1 to 4.
Regardless of any reduction in sentence, any prisoner shall have the right to request a review by an independent board of any criminal judgment rendered against him on or before July 1, 1990.
The Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the German Democratic Republic is instructed to determine in an administrative order the formation, tasks and powers of the independent committees.
This Act shall enter into force on September 28, 1990.
The foregoing law, passed by the People’s Chamber of the German Democratic Republic on the twenty-eighth day of September in the year nineteen hundred and ninety-eight, is hereby promulgated.
Berlin, the twenty-eighth day of September in the year nineteen hundred and ninety
The President of the People’s Chamber of the German Democratic Republic