Thursday, 14 December 2006

Prisoners get to vote?

The government may have to give prisoners the right to vote, due to a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.

The ruling which found a ban on prisoners voting went against their human rights, could allow prisoners to become part of the electorate for the first time in our history.

Giving prisoners the vote will bring the current UK law (which dates back to the Forfeiture Act of 1870) in line with the rest of western Europe.

Former Conservative home secretary Lord Douglas Hurd, Liberal Democrat president Simon Hughes and Labour peer Baroness Kennedy QC support the Barred from Voting group which has been set up by the Prison Reform Trust. The group supporters say it is the "inalienable human right" for prisoners to vote.

A Strasbourg court ruled that not allowing prisoners to vote breached article three of protocol one of the European convention on human rights, which guarantees "free elections ... under conditions which will ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature".

The government argued that banning prisoners from voting prevented crime and punished offenders to enhance civil responsibility and respect for the rule of law.

Q. Do you believe prisoners should have the right to vote?

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