Inhuman and Degrading Punishment, Dignity, and the Limits of Retribution

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The recent judgment of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Vinter and others v United Kingdom provides a much needed clarification of the parameters of the prohibition on inhuman and degrading punishment under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) as it applies to whole life orders of imprisonment under mandatory life sentences – essentially, life imprisonment without parole. The Grand Chamber's judgment refines Strasbourg doctrine on life imprisonment and the prospect of release and illuminates key principles concerning inhuman and degrading punishment under Article 3 of the ECHR. This article considers the judgment's profound significance in relation to both human rights and penology.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)292–307
JournalModern Law Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2014


  • Article 3 ECHR, inhuman and degrading punishment, human dignity, retribution, Vinter v UK, whole life imprisonment without parole, human rights , penology

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