Prisoner voting ban breaches human rights

ballot-box

The rights of more than 1,000 UK prisoners were breached when they were prevented from voting in elections, European judges have said.

But the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rejected the applicants’ claims for compensation and legal costs.

The case before the ECHR concerned 1,015 prisoners who were behind bars throughout various elections between 2009 and 2011.

Grouping together all of the long-standing prisoner voting cases against the UK, the court ruled that there had been a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights – right to a free election.

In August last year the court made a similar ruling, endorsing previous cases where it was found that the blanket ban was a breach.

In September 2014, the Council of Europe’s Committee “noted with profound concern and disappointment that the United Kingdom authorities did not introduce a Bill to parliament at the start of its 2014-2015 session as recommended by the competent parliamentary committee”.

It urged the United Kingdom authorities to introduce such a Bill as soon as possible, and will come back to the issue later this year.

Mark Leech editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisoners in England and Wales said the judgement perhaps showed that we are better off out of the European court of human rights altogether.

Mr Leech said: “This judgement shows that we are perhaps better off out of the European court of human rights with, instead, an enforceable bill of rights rather than be in cahoots with a court where it’s judges have no bottle.

“How can a court declare that the human rights of over a thousand people have been consistently and unlawfully ignored in breach of the convention and yet neither compensation nor costs are recoverable?”

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