Sir: Your editorial support (17 December) for the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the Bulger case could and should have been even stronger.
In virtually every dictatorship pressure is brought on the judiciary to do as they are told by those in power. Occasionally, brave judges refuse. Such courage was one of the rare redeeming features of apartheid South Africa.
When we in the West won the Cold War, the word was that now the rule of law would replace Stalinism. What an extraordinary state of affairs that a British politician should have the power to overrule a judicial sentence, in effect suspending the rule of law by decree.
That the Sovereign retains the prerogative of mercy is an ancient and honourable privilege. That the Home Secretary has the power to do the opposite is a grave abuse.
The Rev Dr PAUL OESTREICHER
The writer was chairman of Amnesty International UK, 1975-79Reuse content