ECHR: Ukraine Must Reform Whole-Life Sentence Review Procedure


March 20, 2019

ECHR: Ukraine Must Reform Whole-Life Sentence Review Procedure

European Court of Human Rights called on Ukraine to reform its procedure for reviewing whole-life sentences. 

The relevant decision was made by the Court on March 12, the Court’s press service said to European Pravda on Wednesday.

The complaint to the ECHR was lodged by a citizen of Ukraine Volodymyr Petukhov convicted of the murder, who has been serving a life sentence since 2004. He complained that Ukrainian legislation has no provisions on the release on parole for life prisoners. 

The court unanimously decided that in Petukhov’s case, the Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights was violated, as Mr. Petukhov had no chances for release, while the review of his life sentence was impossible. 

In particular, presidential clemency, which is a single procedure for mitigating life sentences in Ukraine, was not clearly formulated, nor did it have adequate procedural guarantees against abuse. 

Moreover, the Court is convinced that the conditions of imprisonment for life prisoners in Ukraine do not favour their rehabilitation, that is why the authorities are not able to carry out a genuine review of their sentence. 

“Given the systemic nature of the problem, the Court held under Article 46 (implementation) that Ukraine should reform its system of reviewing whole-life sentences by examining in every case whether continued detention was justified and by enabling whole-life prisoners to foresee what they had to do to be considered for release and under what conditions,” the statement says.