Prison Law European Court: Update

Prison Law European  Court: TCHR  Update

Should Life Mean Life?

To many, certain crimes are regarded as  so appalling that their perpetrators should never become eligible for parole.  There is recent ECtHR endorsement of UK whole life terms being a legitimate sentence in British courts.


VINTER AND OTHERS v. THE UNITED KINGDOM – 66069/09 [2012] ECHR 61 (17 January 2012)

The European Court (almost unanimously) approved UK justice laws in a ruling  dismissing an appeal from 3 men including Jeremy Bamber*,  that “whole life tariffs for murder” with no hope of release, should be struck down because they have no hope of release. The  ECtHR held that such tariffs are  neither grossly disproportionate nor amounted to inhuman or degrading treatment as a breach of Article 3.

The Secretary of State retains discretion on compassionate grounds which is subject to judicial review.

*Bamber has protested his innocence for 26 years and whose innocence – if proved – would qualify as surely one of the most serious miscarriages of justice in British legal history. He said: ‘If the state wishes to have a death penalty, then they should be honest and re-introduce hanging. Instead this political decision that I must die in jail is the death penalty using old age or infirmity as the method.’