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.
BBC legal affairs correspondent Clive Coleman said the ruling was “not a surprise” and there had been a succession of similar judgements over the last decade.
He said there was now a “stand-off” and nothing would happen until after the next election.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “The government has always been clear that it believes prisoner voting is an issue that should ultimately be decided in the UK. However we welcome the court’s decision to refuse convicted prisoners costs or damages.”