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Thursday, June 02, 2011

Conjugal visits for prisoners would solve artificial insemination row

Conjugal visits for prisoners would solve artificial insemination row

It beggars belief that the Secretary of State for Justice, Kenneth Clarke, has "ordered an inquiry today into why a prisoner is being allowed to father a child from behind bars".

The Justice Secretary is the Minister responsible for ensuring that all citizens (including prisoners) within the UK are guaranteed their human right under the Convention. This should come as no surprise to Mr Clarke.

"In this case, the Court would begin by underlining that prisoners in general continue to enjoy all the fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Convention save for the right to liberty, where lawfully imposed detention expressly falls within the scope of Article 5 of the Convention. For example, they continue to enjoy the right to respect for family life". In Dickson v UK, a convicted murderer won the right to father a child by artificial insemination. The effect of the decision was to overturn the policy of only allowing artificial insemination in exceptional cases.

Since the Dickson case, this is the first time that a request for artificial insemination has been granted. This would strongly indicate that the UK is still applying it unlawful in exceptional cases policy. Given the Court's stated approval for conjugal visits for prisoners, the UK needs to be very careful because it may well be that a prisoner takes a case to Strasbourg to establish this as a human right.

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