Skip to main content

E. Long-term prison sentences review

For a mandatory life imprisonment sentence, the Court does not set a minimum term. However, under section 67B(2) of the Criminal Procedure Ordinance, the judge can note any “matters relating to the person or the offence which should be recorded for the purpose of reviewing the sentence in the future” and provide that report to the Chief Executive.


Once the prisoner has served five years of the sentence, the Long-term Prison Sentence Review Board carries out its first review of the sentence, and at that stage (and at later reviews), the Board will consider any comments made by the trial judge.


It is possible for persons who are sentenced to mandatory life imprisonment to be released in the future under procedures for the release of long-term prisoners administered by the Long-term Prison Sentence Review Board and the Chief Executive.


Since July 1997, the Long-term Prison Sentence Review Board can review a mandatory life sentence and recommend to the Chief Executive that the indeterminate sentence be replaced with a determinate (fixed sentence. Under Article 48(12) of the Basic Law (power to grant a pardon), should the Chief Executive accept that recommendation, he can commute the sentence.


Should the Chief Executive accept a recommendation to replace an indeterminate sentence with a determinate sentence, the Long-term Prison Sentence Review Board must conduct a review of the sentence as soon as practicable. For the review of the sentence, the Board takes into account a broad range of factors including any relevant reports or other documents. The Board can release the prisoner after he has served two-thirds of the sentence.