Tuesday 12 December 2017

European court rules that 'life means life' terms breach rights

David Barrett

A MAJOR revolt against Europe's influence was triggered after judges in Strasbourg ruled that "life means life" sentences handed to the most heinous killers are a breach of their human rights.

The European Court of Human Rights agreed that a "whole life" tariff which forces Britain's most notorious murderers to die in jail was "inhuman and degrading" after an appeal was brought by Jeremy Bamber, who murdered five members of his family in 1985.

The court proposed that those serving life with no possibility of parole should have their cases reviewed after 25 years, following which they could be freed.

The decision means that prisoners serving whole life tariffs including some of the most notorious killers in modern British history such as Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, and Ian Brady, the Moors Murderer, could now be granted permission to seek parole.

The ruling prompted a furious reaction from Britain's Prime Minister, Home Secretary and Justice Secretary. But ministers have no right of appeal against the ruling and the government has six months to act upon the decision.

David Cameron, the UK prime minister, said he was "very, very disappointed" and "profoundly disagrees" with the court's decision.

Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, who said the original authors of the human rights laws, drawn up in the the 1950s to avoid a repeat of atrocities witnessed during World War II, would be "turning in their graves".

One Conservative MP, reflecting widely held views on the Tory backbenches, said Strasbourg's "toxic" and "perverse" decision strengthened the case for Britain to pull out from the European court and even leave the human rights convention altogether.

Bamber (52) won the case alongside two other murderers serving whole life terms – a serial killer and a man who stabbed his wife to death less than three years after being released from jail for a previous murder.

Mr Grayling said: "The British people will find this ruling intensely frustrating and hard to understand.


"What the court is saying is that a judge can no longer tell the most appalling criminals that they will never be released.

"I think the people who wrote the original human rights convention would be turning in their graves at this ruling.

"I profoundly disagree with the court and this simply reinforces my determination to curtail the role of the court of human rights in the UK."

Dominic Raab, the Conservative MP who is campaigning for human rights reform, said: "This is another nail in the coffin of the Strasbourg court's reputation.

"It highlights the need to overhaul our human rights laws, and insulate Britain from such perverse and arbitrary European rulings."

Mr Raab added: "It shows the warped moral compass of the Strasbourg court that it allows three brutal murderers to sue Britain for 'inhuman treatment' for jailing them for life to protect the public.

"It is a gross distortion of the European Convention, an attack on the UK's democratic right to set its own criminal justice policy, and toxic for the reputation of human rights with the public." (© Daily Telegraph London)

Irish Independent

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