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“Life Means Life” Prison Sentences Receive the Go-Ahead in England and Wales

By Christopher Zoukis

The British government scored a popular victory against the European Court of Human Rights last month, when the British Court of Appeals ruled “whole-life” prison sentences legal.

The legality of such sentences, intended for the most heinous murders, has been in dispute since July 2013, when the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights decided, in the Vinter case, that “whole-life” sentences without hope or possibility of release, contravene Article 3 of the convention, which prohibits “inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.”

The sentencing of a number of convicted murders has been on hold ever since, pending review by the British Court of Appeal, including those of Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebwale, who were found guilty of brutally murdering British soldier Lee Rigby on a South London street in May 2013.

On February 18, 2014, the Court of Appeal rejected the European Court of Human Rights’ decision, arguing that Section 30 of the Crimes (Sentences) Act of 1997 allows a life-sentence prisoner to appeal to the Home Secretary, under exceptional circumstances, for release on compassionate grounds, thus providing the hope or possibility of release required by the Court of Human Rights, and confirming the legality of “whole-life” sentences.

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Human Rights Supporters Celebrate Recent Prisoner Releases

(NC)—Across Canada human rights supporters have recently been celebrating the releases of a number of prisoners of conscience—people jailed solely for the peaceful expression of their beliefs. In China, poet and journalist Shi Tao was released after more than eight years in prison. Supporters of the human rights organization Amnesty International (amnesty.ca) had long campaigned

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