The Ministry of Justice has professional concerns about the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) relating to life imprisonment.

Life imprisonment is a punitive sanction also applied in other member states of the Council of Europe. The ECHR criticised the currently effective Hungarian legal regulation because it believes that the required period of 40 years that must pass before a review could take place is too long. In their opinion it is more than the maximum 25 years proposed by the Court in a former judgment. The Ministry of Justice wishes to point out that in other cases the ECHR accepted 30 years or even a longer period before a review can take place. The Ministry of Justice believes that the pardon procedure which is objected to by the Court and which grants a discretionary power to the President of the Republic is fair and appropriate and is also applicable similarly in other member states of the ECHR.

The judgment is not yet final and absolute. Pursuant to the Convention, the parties may request submitting the case to the Grand Chamber of the Court within three months (in this case by 4 January 2017) when the cases involves a material issue concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention or related Protocols or any other important issue of general relevance. Once the judgment has been officially delivered, the Ministry will study it and will also look into the issue of the proposal of the Grand Chamber for a review.

Life imprisonment will continue to exist and be considered necessary in the Hungarian criminal policy as this effective criminal policy instrument is highly supported by the Hungarian society and is applied against the most dangerous criminals.

Life imprisonment complies with international conventions, is also applied in approximately one third of the Member States of the European Union and has also satisfied the expectations in Hungary with its strong deterrent power and a great deal of support among the society. During the national consultation held in 2011 94% of the respondents supported the application of life imprisonment.

Pursuant to the Fundamental Law of Hungary life imprisonment may be applied only against perpetrators of deliberately committed violent crimes. In the judicial practice life imprisonment is generally applied in qualified murder cases i.e., in brutal crimes when a person is a victim of premeditated murder or someone is killed for profit motives, when more than one person is killed or when the victim is a child.

(Ministry of Justice)