EU criticises UK’s prisoner vote ban

THE European Court of Human Rights has criticised Britain yet again for not allowing prisoners to vote in elections, but denied convicts who challenged the ban the right to compensation.

Tuesday’s ruling came following a case brought by 10 prisoners who had not been able to vote in the 2009 European Parliament elections.

The European Court recognised that although some effort has been made to change legislation on the matter, the continued ban goes againsta prisoner’s right to free elections, as set in the European Convention of Human Rights.

This is not the first time that the court in Strasbourg has condemned British legislation. The issue has been raised several times since 2005, with the court maintaining that whilst countries should be able to choose independently which prisoners can vote, a blanket ban is illegal.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has previously said that the prospect of allowing prisoners the vote makes him feel ‘physically ill,’ although the political reality is that a draft bill and subsequent examination by a parliamentary committee have recommended that prisoners serving a sentence of 12 months or less should be given the vote.

The fact that no reform has yet been made to the legislation is the reason behind the European Court’s criticism.

A spokesman for the British government said: “The government has always been clear that it believes prisoner voting is an issue that should ultimately be decided in the UK.

“This is not a straightforward issue and the government needs to think carefully about the recommendations, which included new options for implementation.”

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