October 25, 2012
Prisoner Voting?: UK Balks at European Court of Human Rights Opinion
"Prisoners are not getting the vote under this government," UK Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday. This is despite the attorney general's statements earlier that day that the UK should comply with opinions from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) regarding the UK's blanket ban on prisoner voting. The ECHR in 2005 ruled in Hirst v. UK that the UK's bar on voting was too "blunt" of an instrument:
It strips of their Convention right to vote a significant category of persons and it does so in a way which is indiscriminate. The provision imposes a blanket restriction on all convicted prisoners in prison. It applies automatically to such prisoners, irrespective of the length of their sentence and irrespective of the nature or gravity of their offence and their individual circumstances. Such a general, automatic and indiscriminate restriction on a vitally important Convention right must be seen as falling outside any acceptable margin of appreciation, however wide that margin might be.
In 2009, the ECHR expressed "serious concern" that the Hirst judgment had not been implemented.
And it seems that PM Cameron is voicing his opinion that Hirst will never be implemented - at least under his government.
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