ECHR rules U.K. prisoner vote ban as breach of human rights

European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) have ruled that a U.K. law barring a group of prisoners from voting is a clear breach of human rights.

The case concerned 10 prisoners including two convicted murderers and several sex offenders were unable to vote in elections to the European Parliament on June 4 2009 because of their incarceration.

The European judges have ruled that there had been a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights – right to a free election.

Judges have told to conclude the case due to its similarity to another prisoner voting case in the U.K., in which the blanket ban was deemed a breach.

ECHR has condemned Britain several times since 2005 for its legislation on prisoners voting while indicating that individual countries should be able to decide which inmates should be denied the right to vote, but that a total ban is illegal.

The court, however, have rejected the applicants’ claim for compensation and legal costs after they were suffered from the breach of human rights.

According to a House of Commons’ research report, Britain is one of 10 countries including Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Russia and San Marino, within the Council of Europe that imposes an effective ban on prisoner voting; others

Prime Minister David Cameron had stated in 2012 that the idea of giving prisoners the vote makes him feel “physically sick”.

During the previous year, the U.K. supreme court had dismissed appeals from two prisoners over voting, concluding that eligibility was for national parliaments to decide.

In its ruling, the court noted that the U.K. had taken a few steps to potentially amend the law and allow prisoners serving a 12-month term to be eligible to vote.

A spokesman for Britain’s justice ministry said: “The government has always been clear that it believes prisoner voting is an issue that should ultimately be decided in the UK.”

He said however that the government was considering the recommendations from the parliamentary committee.

“This is not a straightforward issue and the government needs to think carefully about the recommendations, which included new options for implementation.”

A spokesperson for Britain’s justice ministry has said: “The government has always been clear that it believes prisoner voting is an issue that should ultimately be decided in the UK.”

He has also told that the government was considering the recommendations from the parliamentary committee. However, “this is not a straightforward issue and the government needs to think carefully about the recommendations, which included new options for implementation.”

Article viewed on Oye! Times at www.oyetimes.com.

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