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The Soering Case

European Court of Human Rights
1928 P.C.I.J, Series A No. 17 at 29, 47 (1928)


Jens Soering (defendant) was an 18-year-old German citizen. There was evidence that Soering had certain mental issues. The United States charged Soering with two capital murders committed in Virginia. The murders were punishable by death. Soering was arrested in the United Kingdom and jailed pending extradition to the United States. The United Kingdom, having abolished the death penalty, asked the United States to commit to not imposing the death penalty upon extradition. The district attorney in Virginia signed an affidavit stating that if Soering was convicted he would inform the judge of the United Kingdom’s wish that the death penalty not be imposed. Soering applied for a writ of habeas corpus in the United Kingdom, but the courts rejected the petition because the British secretary of state had not yet exercised his discretion to extradite Soering. Soering then petitioned the secretary of state. The secretary of state rejected the petition and ordered Soering’s extradition. Soering filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights, claiming a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibited “inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.” Specifically, Soering contended that the death row conditions in Virginia violated Article 3. While the proceedings were pending, the United States stated that it would seek the death penalty for Soering.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning

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