LIFE IMPRISONMENT PENALTY IN LITHUANIA (I): REFLECTION IN THE CONTEXT OF HUMAN RIGHTS STANDARTS Cover Image

Laisvės atėmimo iki gyvos galvos bausmė Lietuvoje (I): refleksija žmogaus teisių standartų kontekste
LIFE IMPRISONMENT PENALTY IN LITHUANIA (I): REFLECTION IN THE CONTEXT OF HUMAN RIGHTS STANDARTS

Author(s): Simonas Nikartas, Algimantas Čepas
Subject(s): Law, Constitution, Jurisprudence, Criminal Law, Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
Published by: Lietuvos teisės institutas

Summary/Abstract: The article consists of two parts. The first part reveals essential characteristics of life imprisonment based on the most recent jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights (major attention being given to the case of Vinter and Others v. the United Kingdom). Firstly, the authors state that life imprisonment per se is not prohibited by the European for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: the European Court of Human Rights acknowledges the principle of priority of public safety – termless imprisonment is allowed until the sentenced poses a danger to the public. Secondly, human rights are infringed in case the state does not provide both de jure and de facto a possibility for review of the penalty imposed and possibilities for release. Thirdly, the resocialisation of the sentenced as the major goal of every penalty is the essential precondition for the release of the sentenced. The latter statement means that the sentenced who have proven by their behavior that they are ready to reintegrate into society are to be provided with a real hope for release. Fourthly, the article emphasizes the position of the European Court of Human Rights that states are obliged to provide for clearly defined appropriate mechanisms and preconditions of release that shall be known to every sentenced person at the moment the sentence is being passed. These mechanisms shall guarantee that the goals of the penalties imposed and possibilities of release of every sentenced person are reviewed in every case when there are grounds to believe that the goals of the penalty have been attained. The second part of the article provide evaluation whether the penalty of life imprisonment provided for in the laws of Lithuania meets the standards established by the European Court of Human Rights. The authors take a position that the only de jure possibility of release of the sentenced to life imprisonment (President‘s pardon) is almost non-applicable to this category of the sentenced and therefore it could be doubted whether it exists de facto. The President‘s pardon does not guarantee review of the goals of the penalty neither. The absence of an appropriate mechanism of review of the penalty imposed makes the goals of the penalty to be declarative and symbolic only. These shortages, while taking into account criteria established by the European Court of Human Rights, should be considered to be infringements of human rights. The authors propose establishment of a possibility of early release for the sentenced to life imprisonment in Lithuania. The institute of early release would bring life imprisonment in Lithuania nearer to the European standards of human rights. The authors also acknowledge that, while taking into account harsh practice of early release in Lithuania, it would be applied to the sentenced to the life imprisonment rarely however would meet the criteria of de facto release.

  • Issue Year: 2/2014
  • Issue No: 84
  • Page Range: 5-25
  • Page Count: 21
  • Language: Lithuanian