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Right to Vote?

With it being my birthday yesterday I did not post and so thought I would today jump back to what seemed to be, based on the newspapers front pages, the #1 news story.

The decision of the European Court of Human Rights to declare that Britain’s ban on prisoner voting is unlawful.

Now I have to be honest I’m not too sure where I stand on this matter, on one hand the individuals in questions have committed a crime that has required them to be removed from society, on the other hand depending on the length of their sentence, or their due release date they will have to live in a society governed by a system that they have not been given any say in.

Its without doubt that in the case of many of the inmates they have refused to acknowledge or have actively chosen to violate the Human Rights of their victims, and therefore is it right that they are able to exercise their “right to vote” by claiming that their own Human Rights have been effected?

However over the years there have been a number of elected officials who have spent time in prison or been convicted of criminal offences, at least some of these still hold posts with in or related to the government or are in positions of influence within their political party.

If we feel it is right to refuse prisoners the right to vote on who should represent the country then surely by extension we should refuse those who have been to prison the right to represent?

Add to that the fact that in the current climate many, what most of us would consider serious criminal charges do not always result in prison time, is being in prison the only criteria for being unable to vote or does it extend to those sentenced to community service? I don’t know to be fair and was unable to find out. It seems to me if this is the stance that we are to take then surely it should apply to all criminals not just those actually in a jail cell?

What I personally find more interesting is that none of the articles in any of the newspapers of varying quality focus at all on the question of if the ruling is in fact correct. The sole focus of every article is simply the fact that the decision has been made by a body unelected by the UK public. Now whilst this is defiantly a point worth discussing and potentially being against, the way that the articles that I have read have been written is that content of the ruling is irrelevant, it’s simply that we don’t like being told what to do.

Comments about “unelected Euro Judges” making our laws are common, but as far as my limited understanding of politics goes (which may and probably is wrong)  any law that we wish to introduce my first be ratified by the unelected House of Lords.

These articles seem to completely miss the point, having read briefly through United Nations Human Rights Committee, General Comment 25, I can clearly see a part that could be (and I am sure was)  argued that restricting prisoners rights to vote is well within the framework of law.

14. In their reports, States parties should indicate and explain the legislative provisions which would deprive citizens of their right to vote. The grounds for such deprivation should be objective and reasonable. If conviction for an offence is a basis for suspending the right to vote, the period of such suspension should be proportionate to the offence and the sentence. Persons who are deprived of liberty but who have not been convicted should not be excluded from exercising the right to vote.

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