2019.07.15 10:13

Lithuania has given life prisoners hope of release, ECHR rules

Lithuania has stopped violating the rights of life prisoners and has provided them with real chances of release, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.

A panel of seven judges concluded earlier in July that the law adopted in Lithuania in March, giving life prisoners hope of release, has duly resolved the situation.

The ECHR finds the 20-year term after which prisoners can expect a review of their status acceptable.

Also, a life prisoner can take an active part in the proceedings for the review of his or her life sentence, and the criteria stipulated in the Lithuanian law "was objective enough to allow an effective assessment of whether the person had reformed so as to deserve commutation".

"The Court thus considered that the life-sentence commutation procedure and its requirements, as very recently adopted by the Lithuanian authorities, constituted an adequate and sufficient remedy for the applicants’ complaint," the Strasbourg court ruled.

Taking into account these arguments, the court removed 16 applications from its list of cases.

The Lithuanian Seimas adopted legal amendments earlier this year in response to the Strasbourg court's 2017 ruling that "even those who commit the most abhorrent and egregious of acts, nevertheless retain their essential humanity and carry within themselves the capacity to change".

There are now over 100 life prisoners in Lithuania.

Based on the new amendments, Vilnius Regional Court for the first time softened the sentence of a life prisoner ewarlier this month.

Read more: First life prisoner to be released in Lithuania after a landmark ruling