Tuesday, 3 February 2015

That bloody Europe

The European Court of Human Rights is much funkier than Ealing Magistrates' Court


As we all know Europe’s sole reason for existing is to frustrate the British Government and annoy the British people with their directives, regulations and pesky decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.

The minor fact that the European Union has nothing to do with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) is just a technicality – they’re all in it together.

A big complaint among those opposed to Europe is the ban placed upon us by the ECtHR preventing us from locking up murderers and throwing away the key.  I did point out what a lot of nonsense this is more than a year ago in January 2014 in Aiming for a century.

In a nutshell the problem arose because the UK government abolished the review of whole of life sentences that used to take place when they were 25-years into their sentence.  The ECtHR, not unreasonably, puts rehabilitation at the core of the convention – the idea that somebody can atone for their crimes and one day earn their freedom.  This doesn’t mean it should be a fast process or that an offender shouldn’t be punished; it does mean that hope of freedom should not be taken away and recognises that people do change.  The man who commits a murder aged 25 is probably not the same man who hopes for release at age 60!  I know it’s only a film but Morgan Freeman’s character in Shawshank Redemption gives an excellent example of this in his speech to the parole board.

This morning the ECtHR handed down a judgment in Hutchinson v United Kingdom holding that whole of life sentences are lawful because section 30 Crime (Sentences) Act 1997 allows release on compassionate grounds and is a sufficient review process.

So, once again, we see that the criticism of human rights law and “Europe” is overblown and, generally speaking, incorrect.

Having said that, I disagree with the decision in Hutchinson.  Compassionate release is a process mainly aimed at situations where the offender is ill or elderly.  That may be sufficient in most cases, but I do think there should be a review possible to confirm that the original whole of life tariff remains correct even after 25-years have passed and public outcry has faded.

2 comments:

  1. Agree with your conclusion, however from this the ECtHr may be seen to want to appease the UK, not a noble idea if true

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    1. Yes the more I think about it the more I wonder if this was done more to appease the UK than anything else.

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