Jeremy Corbyn will consider campaigning to give prisoners the right to vote if he becomes Labour leader. The Labour leadership candidate said he would follow demands by the European Court of Human Rights to allow convicted criminals the right to vote in British elections. The court has ruled four times that Britain should lift its ban on prisoner votes but Parliament has refused to give way over the issue. The 66-year-old left-wing politician supports the principle of overturning the historic ban on jailed convicts voting because he thinks it will help rehabilitate them. MPs voted in 2011 to keep the ban on prisoner voting, despite the tough stance adopted by the European judges since 2005.
Greece: Referendum Not in Line With European Standards, Council of Europe Says | Wall Street Journal
Greece’s referendum on the terms for an international bailout came under fresh scrutiny on Wednesday, after Europe’s rights watchdog said it didn’t meet European standards and journalists spotted a mistake in the translation of one of the documents at the center of the vote. “The referendum has been called on such a short notice that this in itself is a major problem,” Thorbjorn Jagland, the secretary-general of the Council of Europe, said in an interview with the Associated Press. The comments were confirmed by Mr. Jagland’s spokesman, Daniel Höltgen. The warning doesn’t have any legal consequences and doesn’t provide a basis for a legal challenge in the Council’s court, the European Court of Human Rights. But it raises further doubts over the vote, which was already been questioned by European politicians and Greek opposition leaders.
Russia’s Constitutional Court has upheld the legality of early parliamentary elections, clearing the way for lawmakers to vote on bringing forward next year’s State Duma elections by three months. The court said the initiative was constitutional so long as election dates were not regularly shifted. The effort to bring forward the 2016 elections, from December to September 18, is expected to come to a vote on July 3. The bill has strong backing from deputies for the United Russia, A Just Russia, and ultranationalist Liberal Democratic parties.
Editorials: The UK should encourage prisoners to be good citizens and let them vote | Juliet Lyon/openDemocracy
Last week’s ruling by the European Court of Human Rights on prisoners’ voting reinforces previous judgments of the Court that the UK’s blanket ban on sentenced prisoners voting is unlawful. But with three months to go before the UK general election, it’s clear that the government would rather flout human rights law, ignore the advice of prison governors, bishops to, and inspectors of, prisons and take up Parliamentary time and taxpayers’ money in order to stop sentenced prisoners from acting responsibly by voting in democratic elections. For ten years now successive UK governments have wasted public money resisting the European Court’s judgment. The current Prime Minister has even admitted to feeling “physically ill to even contemplate having to give the vote to anyone who is in prison”.
“I was in prison on the day of an election. I posted a mocked-up ballot paper into the wing postbox. It was utterly pointless of course, but I was just looking to make a point,” an anonymous former inmate told the Guardian. Despite finding yet again that the UK continues to violate prisoners’ rights to participate in elections, the European court of human rights (ECHR) declined to order compensation to 1,015 UK prisoners on Tuesday. “I broadly agree with ECHR’s ruling: can you really ever put a monetary value on the loss of this human right? “It troubles me. You would hope that the fact it’s illegal would put pressure on the government to address it, but I feel the right wing are just using this to show how out of touch the European Court is,” he said.
The rights of UK prisoners were breached when they were prevented from voting in elections, European judges have again ruled. The case was brought by inmates who were in prison during various elections between 2009 and 2011. This is the fourth time the European Court of Human Rights has ruled against the UK’s blanket ban on giving convicted prisoners the vote. The court has called for a change in the law but this has not happened. Both the previous Labour government and current coalition have failed to legislate – although various proposals have been debated in an attempt to end the long-running row with the Strasbourg court. This latest case concerned 1,015 prisoners, a grouping of long-standing prisoner voting cases, and the court ruled there had been a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights – right to a free election.
European judges are set to rule on whether the rights of 1,015 serving prisoners in the UK were breached when they were prevented from voting in elections. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is due to announce its judgment regarding applications brought by people who were in jail throughout various elections between 2009 and 2011. The ruling will group together all of the long-standing prisoner voting cases against the UK that have been pending before the court. In August last year the ECHR ruled that the rights of 10 prisoners had been violated in relation to Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights – right to a free election. Judges said they reached the conclusion as the case was identical to another prisoner voting case in the UK, in which the blanket ban was deemed a breach.
Watching the Greek elections unfold from her London office left Zoe Spiliopoulou frustrated. Like thousands of expatriate Greeks she was prevented from voting in Sunday’s polls after the Athens parliament failed to pass a law in time to overturn a longstanding ban. “It is really unfair being in London. I am still interested in Greek politics. But to vote means taking time off work and buying a plane ticket back to my town, which is two hours from Athens,” said Spiliopoulou, an urban designer who has spent the last three years in the UK. “Some people I know looked and return tickets cost £300. The airlines put the prices up when they know there is an election because they know flying is the only way many people can get back to the place where they are registered. And for some people it would be a seven-hour trip from the airport to get back to vote.” … In 2010 the European court of human rights ruled in favour of two Greek nationals working at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg who were unable to vote in the 2007 Greek parliamentary elections. The Greek ambassador to France had previously rejected their application, saying there was no legislation providing for “special measures […] for the setting up of polling stations in embassies and consulates.”
United Kingdom: UK prisoners denied the vote should not be paid compensation, ECHR rules | The Guardian
The European court of human rights (ECHR) has ruled that prisoners who have not been allowed to vote should not be paid compensation. However, in a ruling that will stoke anger within the Conservative party, the court on Tuesday upheld its earlier ruling that the prisoners’ human rights were breached when they were not allowed to vote. The case concerns 10 men serving sentences in Scottish prisons – some of whom are convicted sex offenders – who claimed their human rights were breached when they were not allowed to vote in the European elections in 2009. Had the court ruled that the men were entitled to compensation, the government would have had to make payouts in hundreds of similar cases. In its decision on Tuesday, the court unanimously said that its finding that the prisoners’ rights had been violated was sufficient. “The finding of a violation constitutes in itself sufficient just satisfaction for any non-pecuniary damage sustained by the applicant,” it said.
A group of British prisoners have lost a compensation bid for being denied the right to vote. However, the European Court of Human Rights said in its ruling that denying them the vote was a breach of human rights. Ten prisoners took the case to the ECHR after being denied the right to vote in elections to the European Parliament on June 4, 2009. The court ruled that was a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights – right to a free election.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is due to rule on whether prisoners who have been denied the vote should get compensation. The case concerns 10 men serving sentences in Scottish prisons who claim their human rights were breached when they were not allowed to vote. In 2004 the ECHR said that a blanket ban on prisoners voting was unlawful. But successive UK governments have not complied with this ruling. The claimants – some of whom are convicted sex offenders – argue that their human rights were breached after they were not allowed to take part in the 2009 European elections.
Denying the vote to a group of prisoners was a breach of human rights, although no compensation or costs should be paid, European judges have ruled. The case before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) concerned 10 prisoners who were unable to vote in elections to the European Parliament on June 4 2009. The ECHR ruled that there had been a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights – right to a free election. Judges said they reached this conclusion as the case was identical to another prisoner voting case in the UK, in which the blanket ban was deemed a breach. The court rejected the applicants’ claim for compensation and legal costs.
U.K. prisoners serving sentences of less than a year should be given the right to vote in elections, a cross-party panel of lawmakers said today. It would be better for Britain to uphold the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights than continue to deny the vote to all prisoners regardless of length of sentence, the panel, drawn from members of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, said in a report.Prime Minister David Cameron said in November 2010 that the thought of giving prisoners the vote made him feel “physically ill” after a ruling by the ECHR that banning prisoners from voting was incompatible with the convention.
United Kingdom: Conservatives clash over European court ruling on prisoner voting rights | The Guardian
The justice secretary, Chris Grayling, was accused by former justice minister Crispin Blunt of “setting up a crisis” over human rights in Europe when the two clashed in a Westminster committee over prisoners being allowed to vote. The public clash between two prominent Conservatives over enforcing the controversial ruling by Strasbourg judges that prisoners should be allowed to vote highlights mounting political tension within the party over the UK’s fraught relationship with Europe. In response to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decision, first announced in 2005, that a blanket ban on inmates being allowed to participate in elections was illegal, the government has published a multiple choice bill with three options – one of which proposes retaining the ban and defying Strasbourg. Earlier this month, Thorbjørn Jagland, secretary-general of the Council of Europe, which oversees the ECHR, warned that if the UK, a founder member of the human rights system, refused to enforce the judgment it would weaken and deprive it of any meaning.
So here we are, embroiled in a mess of Parliament’s own devising. The European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly ruled that a blanket ban on prisoner voting is incompatible with European law. The UK Parliament has repeatedly flouted that edict. Now, more quickly than expected, the court has announced that it is reopening the 2281 cases involving British prisoners, despite previously saying it would put them on hold. Premature and disrespectful, say some Tory MPs. Maybe. But hell could freeze over before our legislature would willingly hand the vote to a single inmate of Her Majesty’s jails. Leave aside for now the argument that loss of freedom should automatically mean loss of franchise, and look at the practical consequences.
United Kingdom: Human rights commissioner says UK ‘should leave Council of Europe’ if it defies ruling on prisoner voting rights | theguardian.com
The UK should withdraw from the Council of Europe if it chooses to ignore pan-Europe judgments giving prisoners the right to vote, the continent’s most senior human rights official has warned. Niels Muižnieks, the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner, said British MPs could not “cherry-pick” decisions issued by the European court of human rights. His comments, published in evidence to the joint Commons and Lords parliamentary committee considering the draft voting eligibility (prisoners) bill, are likely to raise the political stakes in an already inflamed confrontation that has set British ministers at odds with the Strasbourg-based European court of human rights. The court first ruled in 2005 that a blanket ban preventing all prisoners from voting in elections was incompatible with human rights.
United Kingdom: Eight-year standoff over prisoner voting rights approaches resolution | theguardian.com
The United Kingdom’s standoff with the European court of human rights (ECHR) over prisoner voting is approaching a final resolution after eight years of political and legal controversy. The Strasbourg court first ruled in 2005 that a blanket ban preventing all prisoners from voting in elections was incompatible with human rights. That opinion has been unsuccessfully challenged in the upper appeals chamber of the ECHR several times, most recently by the attorney general, Dominic Grieve QC, when he supported an Italian case arguing an identical principle.
United Kingdom: Prisoners launch legal bid to vote in Scottish independence referendum | theguardian.com
Three prison inmates have launched a legal challenge to force the Scottish government to give them a vote in next year’s independence referendum. The three men, Andrew Gillon and Leslie Moohan, both serving sentences for murder, and a third long-term prisoner, Gary Gibson, insist they want to vote in the referendum. The trio argue that the Scottish government’s refusal to allow them to vote is a breach of their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the UK’s obligations under the international covenant on civil and political rights. Their case, being fought by the human rights lawyer Tony Kelly, who has won a series of landmark rulings on prisoners’ rights, follows a long-running political dispute over the franchise for next year’s referendum.
A British expat who took a test case to the European Court of Human Rights to try to secure the right to vote in UK general elections has lost the case. Harry Shindler, 93, has lived in Italy since he retired from the army in 1982 argued that he should be allowed to vote in UK elections as he still has strong ties to the country. Currently anyone who has lived abroad for more than 15 years cannot vote in a general election in the UK but Shindler claimed that this breached his human rights. However, the court rules that it is entirely appropriate for the UK to have such conditions and said that there should always be ‘room for manoeuvre’ over eligibility for voting rights. It is an issue that is estimated to affect around a million British expats. The rules mean that expats can vote only in for general elections for a certain time but they can vote if they move back to the UK.
As the voting documents are being distributed, one part of Maltese society will not be expecting any deliveries. Based on the UK tradition, Malta bars people serving a prison term longer than one year from voting. Those given a suspended sentence retain the right. The matter was a controversial battlefield in the UK in 2001 when convicted killer John Hirst challenged the blanket ban on prisoners voting. He lost the case in the English High Court but subsequently won it in the European Court of Human Rights. None of the main political parties was happy about the ruling; the last British Labour government put off doing anything in response. In March 2011, the UK Government set up a Commission to look into the possibility of drafting a Bill of Rights and providing advice on reforming the European Court of Human Rights. In Malta, no such debate is taking place but according to criminal lawyer Joe Giglio, the fact that a person has committed an offence should not have much to do with his right to vote.
The dilemma regarding the enfranchisement of prisoners is becoming a constitutional issue. There are two opposing moral positions. David Cameron has said “It makes me physically ill even to contemplate having to give the vote to anyone who is in prison.” But the rule of law is about more than gut instincts. The UK government has an unequivocal responsibility to implement judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. If it refuses to bring forward plans to provide votes for at least some prisoners by Thursday of this week it will be in breach of its obligations.
United Kingdom: Prisoner Disenfranchisement as a Sovereign Issue: Britain’s Conundrum | The International
After a final ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, the UK government is believed to be planning a draft bill that will introduce limited voting rights for prisoners despite widespread opposition to the move in the legislature. The announcement of the draft bill is expected to be deferred until just before a late November deadline but after the November 17 election for police commissioner. All judgements made by the European Court of Human Rights are binding and member states are expected to abide by their judgements or face penalty, usually monetary. If Britain fails to change their prisoner voting laws, they could face a fine amounting up to £150 million.
United Kingdom: Tories bow to European court of human rights over prisoner voting rights | The Guardian
The government is planning a draft bill introducing limited prisoner voting rights to comply with the European court of human rights, despite fierce opposition from Eurosceptic backbenchers. But embarrassed government ministers are likely to defer the hugely controversial announcement until just before a late-November deadline, allowing it to be made after the police commissioner elections on 17 November.
With a single word yesterday, David Cameron seized an opportunity that could work wonders to restore his battered fortunes. That word was: ‘Yes.’ He had been asked if he would give an undertaking not to succumb to the diktat from the European Court of Human Rights, demanding that prisoners should be given the right to vote. Further, would he stand up for the sovereignty of Parliament and the British people by upholding the huge Commons vote in support of the blanket ban?
United Kingdom: European Court Rules British Prisoners Must Be Granted Voting Rights | International Business Times
Some British MPs are outraged by a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights that prisoners must be given the right to vote in political elections. The Court supported a prior ruling that a blanket prohibition on inmates in England and Wales voting was unlawful. British prisoners have been barred from voting for 140 years. However, the court suggested that the British government could have the right to extend voting rights only to certain prisoners, that is, by withholding enfranchisement to the worst criminals, including murderers and rapists. London now has six months to comply with the court’s ruling, or face the risk of court challenges and incurring large legal costs, including possibly paying compensation to 2,500 prisoners who have filed suit to overturn the ban. However, UK MPs, who last year overwhelmingly voted to continue the prohibition on prisoners voting, may be irked by European court dictating policy to them.
The letter was sent from the Foreign Office to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, in relation to a case brought against the UK by expat Harry Shindler. Mr Shindler, a 90-year old World War Two veteran who lives in Italy, believes that the UK’s current policy of depriving expats of their vote after 15 years spent abroad is discriminatory, and the ECHR is currently considering his claim.
In the letter, a spokesman for the Government said that it stood by the opinion that the “applicant is not a ‘victim’, according to principles established in the case-law in the court” and argued that if Mr Shindler wished to vote, “it was open to him to take Italian citizenship and acquire a right to vote in elections to the Italian national parliament.”