HL Deb 02 May 2001 vol 625 cc98-9WA
Lord Goldsmith

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether it is Her Majesty's Government's policy to support officially a plea for clemency from a British national imprisoned overseas. [HL1984]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal

Our objective is to support pleas for clemency in deserving cases, while respecting the sovereign right of foreign governments to sentence prisoners according to their own laws. Following an internal review, we have decided to widen our existing criteria for supporting clemency pleas. We will now consider supporting clemency pleas from British nationals imprisoned overseas in the following cases:

in compelling compassionate circumstances, such as where a prisoner is chronically ill or dying (particularly when prison conditions overseas are poor) or where a close family member is chronically ill or dying; where continued incarceration is likely to endanger life or is likely to reduce life expectancy significantly;

in cases of minors imprisoned overseas;

as a last resort, in cases where we have prima facie evidence of a denial or miscarriage of justice, where we have made representations, but where those representations have failed to secure a remedy. In these cases, our reasons for supporting a plea would not normally be mentioned explicitly in the plea itself.

We will also take the prisoner's family circumstances into account when considering whether to support a plea for clemency. We will examine all pleas on a case-by-case basis.

Our previous policy was to support clemency pleas in compelling compassionate circumstances, such as where a prisoner was terminally ill, or where the death of a spouse would leave young children with no one to care for them. The new policy demonstrates our commitment to protecting the human rights of British nationals.