European Court: Life sentences without review breach human rights

As reported in the Guardian (click here for the full article):

Whole-life jail sentences without any prospect of release amount to inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners, the European court of human rights has ruled.

The landmark judgment will set the ECHR on a fresh collision course with the UK government but does not mean that any of the applicants – Jeremy Bamber, Peter Moore and Douglas Vinter – are likely to be released soon.

[The court found] there had been a violation of article 3 of the European convention on human rights[.] The judgment said: “For a life sentence to remain compatible with article 3 there had to be both a possibility of release and a possibility of review.” […]


Commentary by Marion Isobel of the Open Society Justice Initiative (click here for the full essay):

[…] People who have committed crimes serious enough to warrant life sentences are never going to attract much public sympathy, and politicians are loathe [sic] to be seen as soft on crime. But those commenting on this issue should take the time to reflect on the judgment as a whole.

The 65 pages are a fascinating read, offering an in-depth analysis of how countries around the world deal with prison sentences for their most serious criminals. The court [found that] only a handful of countries have a system like the UK, where there is no real prospect of review. […]

The core reasoning underpinning the judgment is that prisoners — no matter how serious or terrible their crimes were — should not be deprived of all hope of release. […]