At the end of last month, it was found that the Grand Chamber, the highest court of the ECtHR, held that there is a breach of Article 3. This was held because there is no review process, for those given life without parole sentences. In addition, although in principle there is no issue with these sentences, on a practical level there should be a review process after twenty five years. This decision has caused controversy for both politicians and the judiciary. Furthermore, there has been criticism from victims of crime and members of the public who believe that prisoners should not be entitled to rights. It is because of this ruling that the Court of Appeal is now set to hear three new appeals contesting this type of sentence.
It is important to remember, that although the appeal on human rights grounds has been successful this does not stop judges giving life without parole sentences at the present time. What makes this a hot topic of debate is the upcoming sentence of the murderers of Fusilier Lee Rigby. Mr Justice Sweeny, who presided over the murder trial, has delayed sentencing until the appeal(s) for this type of sentence have been ruled upon.
In summary, whatever the outcome for the use of life without parole sentences the debate on whether life should mean life will continue to divide everyone in society rather than just those in the legal and political world.
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