From Vinter to Hutchinson and Back Again? The Story of Life Imprisonment Cases in the European Court of Human Rights

European Human Rights Law Review 2018

17 Pages Posted: 26 Apr 2022

See all articles by Lewis Graham

Lewis Graham

University of Oxford - Wadham College

Date Written: 2018

Abstract

The imposition of life sentences upon prisoners, and their compatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights, is a contentious legal and political issue, especially in the United Kingdom. Applications to the Strasbourg Court against the UK have resulted in a number of legally significant and sometimes seemingly contradictory outcomes. The Grand Chamber’s controversial 2017 Hutchinson judgment seems to come to the opposite conclusion to the landmark Vinter judgment four years earlier, which may at first seem to demonstrate a watering-down of Convention standards. However, by looking at Hutchinson in its wider context, including its interpretation in the subsequent case of Matiošaitis v Lithuania, it seems to be the case that, at least in the eyes of the Second Chamber, the significance of Hutchinson is largely limited to the factual situation in the United Kingdom, and does not seem to signal a wider change of direction for the general Strasbourg jurisprudence.

Keywords: life sentences, Article 3 ECHR, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, ECHR, prisoner rights

Suggested Citation

Graham, Lewis, From Vinter to Hutchinson and Back Again? The Story of Life Imprisonment Cases in the European Court of Human Rights (2018). European Human Rights Law Review 2018, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4087763 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4087763

Lewis Graham (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Wadham College ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

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