Thursday, 10 February 2011
votes for prisoners
a lot of nonsense is being spouted in some of the British media on this topic, being debated in the Commons as I write. Individuals can bring applications to the European Court of Human Rights, but those applications are only admissible if all domestic legal avenues have been exhausted. In fact the issue of votes for prisoners has been before the House before, in 2005 as a private member's bill, at which time it was supported by Ken Clarke, former Tory Home Secretary Douglas Hurd, and Simon Hughes for the LibDems, among many others, including the Prison Reform Trust. An event to promote the bill was presided over by Hurd and Hughes in the Commons. The bill was ultimately withdrawn, not because of any pressure from the then Government whips, but because of irresponsible antics by some Tory election candidates. In fact there is no proposal, nor any need under the European Convention of Human Rights and the Court's judgment, for any government to give all prisoners the right to vote no matter what their offence. The Court has ruled that the right to vote may not be removed from all prisoners regardless of their offence.