Wednesday, May 23, 2012
On Tuesday, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that Member States to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) should have the right to decide whether prisoners who have committed serious crimes such as rape or murder can vote. The ECtHR stated, however, that prisoners who have committed only minor offenses should be allowed to vote. The case is Scoppola v. Italy.
The case involved an Italian man who is serving a 30-year sentence for killing his wife. Under the Italian criminal code, a person who is sentenced to more than three years is not permitted to run for office or take part in elections. However, after serving three years and demonstrating good behavior, the right to vote may be re-earned. The ECtHR found this law to be consistent with the right to vote in Article 3 to Protocol No. 1 of the ECHR.
The case has implications for the United Kingdom which bars voting by prisoners. The ECtHR has ruled that the UK law violates the ECHR because it is too broad and indiscrimate. It has given the UK six months to bring its law into compliance with the ECHR.