European Court of Human Rights Questions

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European Court of Human Rights Questions

Postby Shaun » 20 Jun 2014, 08:02

A Dalrymple article today in City Journal (http://www.city-journal.org/2014/eon0619td.html) ends with this line:
“Not long ago, the European Court of Human Rights displayed its unutterable incompetence and stupidity by ruling that imprisonment in perpetuity is against fundamental human rights.”

Which I immediately agreed with – if the European Court of Human Rights has indeed ruled that imprisonment in perpetuity is against human rights, than that’s troublesome for life sentences. However, when I Googled it I couldn’t find anything other than mention that ‘imprisonment in perpetuity without a trial is against human rights’, which seems like a fine human right to me (and is already covered by Magna Carta anyway, I think).

So, my questions are these:

1. Has there been a recent European Court ruling saying that imprisonment in perpetuity AFTER a trial is against human rights?
2. If not, is Dalrymple against the classic human right of not being imprisoned in perpetuity without trial? Because that doesn’t sound like a very Dalrymple-ish position.
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Re: European Court of Human Rights Questions

Postby Yessica » 20 Jun 2014, 13:21

I am not an expert on that but I heard that the human rights court ruled that Germany may not longer hold prisoners believed to be a danger to the public in prison perpetuity after they served their sentence.

To take an example: In Germany a murderer typically sentenced to 15 years and is released after that.
If it turned out during his time in prison that he most likely was still a danger to the public he stayed in prison to till the end of his days. The European court ruled that this must be stopped.
Someone send to 15 years must not serve longer than 15 years in prison.

Some dangerous criminals had to been set free after that, each watched by ten to twenty police men 24/7.
I think there is also new laws which make it possible that such person are transferred to other facilities after serving their sentence which are not called "prisons" but something like "high security mental health facilities". I do not know if there is a big difference or just another name.

That is what I heard but I was not really interested that much and might have misunderstood it. May be somebody else knows.
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Re: European Court of Human Rights Questions

Postby Nathan » 20 Jun 2014, 14:02

We had the same ECHR ruling cause complications here. If you're convicted of murder here you get a compulsory life sentence with a minimum term, on average about 18 or 20 years I believe. There is no obligation for the prisons to let somebody out after that time if they are not considered suitable for release. Maybe this is a model Germany could follow?

The problem that ruling caused here is that some murderers (serial killers, child rapist-murderers etc) are given whole-life sentences which mean they will not be released. The ECHR considered sentences of more than 25 years before a chance of parole to be illegal but our own courts said we can ignore the ECHR on this one and carry on giving them when suitable.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-26236225
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Re: European Court of Human Rights Questions

Postby Yessica » 20 Jun 2014, 14:14

Nathan wrote:We had the same ECHR ruling cause complications here. If you're convicted of murder here you get a compulsory life sentence with a minimum term, on average about 18 or 20 years I believe. There is no obligation for the prisons to let somebody out after that time if they are not considered suitable for release. Maybe this is a model Germany could follow?


I think sentence like this used to exist in Germany and were used for murderers which were believed a danger to the public right when the sentnce was passed.
In most murders that was not the case.
Now there is a problem: What if it turns out the criminal is a danger years after he has been convicted - while serving in prison? There have been cases when prison psychologist said "This man is dangerous, keep him in" and according to the EHRC that is wrong.
He has already served his sentence and must be released after that. Once passed the sentence might not be changed.

... but I assume sentences will now change after that and the judge will always add the possibility that the person might have to stay in jail for life. If the judge mentions that in the sentence it is perfectly legal to keep him locked up for life... or so I thought until I read what you said about 25 years.

Unfortunaly I really do not know much about this discussion though it was big in tabloids such as the Bild.
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Re: European Court of Human Rights Questions

Postby Shaun » 20 Jun 2014, 14:50

Thanks for those answers. It seems to make sense and it's nice to know that life-terms are still possible.

"The Court of Appeal has upheld judges' right to jail the most serious offenders in England and Wales for the rest of their lives."
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