UK Court of Appeal disagrees with ECHR on whole-life sentences

A- A A+

On Feb. 18th the UK Court of Appeal ruled that judges in England and Wales can continue to impose so-called “whole life” prison sentences in the most serious murder cases.  This in spite of the ruling  in July 2013 of the European Court of Human rights in the same case (Vinter and others v. United Kingdom)  that whole life sentences violate human rights, unless they  contain an element of reviewability.
The Court of Appeal replied to the ECHR that a power to review the detention of whole-life prisoners arises in exceptional circumstances. Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas said that UK law  does provide to an offender ‘hope’ or the ‘possibility’ of release in exceptional circumstances which render the just punishment originally imposed no longer justifiable.
This case adds up to the tension between the UK judiciary and the European Court recently as the UK has issued conflicting rulings on major human rights issues. See a full report in the Jurist .


For books in the library on the protection of human rights in the UK in general and the Human Rights Act in particular see shelf mark LAW HCgg9 . Books  on the European Court of Human Rights can be found on the shelves at  LAW Dkdg9  An outline of all primary sources (treaties, cases etc) of the Council of Europe available in the library can be found on the Council of Europe Collection webpage