Prisoners to be given voting rights
A row erupted yesterday between human rights judges and David Cameron after the European court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that prisoners in the UK must be given the right to vote.
Strasbourg Court has ruled that the blanket of disenfranchisement for all those serving time is illegal. Forty per cent of the forty-seven European countries have no law regarding prisoners’ voting rights. Yet the UK government has been repeatedly ordered to grant these rights to prisoners.
“General automatic and indiscriminate disenfranchisement of all serving prisoners, irrespective of the nature or gravity of their offences, is incompatible with Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 (the right to free elections) of the European Convention on Human Rights,” say Strasbourg Court. The Prime Minster has hit back and said Britain should be able to decide whether its ten thousands of prisoners are able to vote.
Cameron said: “I have always believed when you are sent to prison you lose certain rights and one of those rights is the right to vote.”
Minsters and MPs have insisted that the decision of whether UK prisoners should be able to vote is a political one and not a matter for the European court.
Leading Labour politicians have said they will back David Cameron if he decides to fight the issue with human rights judges, who have given UK politicians six months to make a decision.
Labour shadow chancellor Ed Balls said: “This is one of those times in politics where there is cross-party consensus.”
“I am all in favour of prisoners having the right kind of support and being rehabilitated, but voting is one of the things I think you give up if you go to prison.”