Sunday 21 February 2010

Government in U Turn on prisoners’ votes

Association of Prisoners

Tel: (01482) 341281 or 07766964583

Government in U Turn on prisoners’ votes

Jack Straw gives declaration to implement Euro Court ruling

The Association of Prisoners (AoP) welcomes the government’s declaration to comply fully with its obligations under the European Convention to abide by the Convention and European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) decisions.

The declaration was made between 18-19 February, in Interlaken, Switzerland, at a Ministerial Conference organised by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which was attended by Ministers of the 47 Member States within the Council of Europe.

The main purpose of the Ministerial Conference was to push forward proposed reforms to the ECtHR. A major problem being that the Court is overburdened with the amount of applications by citizens alleging human rights violations by Member States. Another problem being the Committee of Ministers role of supervising enforcement of the Court’s decisions; and Member States choosing to ignore the decisions of the Court as being final.

Because the Russian Minister of Justice Alexander Konovalov has ratified Article 14 of the Convention, it means that the Prisoners Votes Case can progress to the Final Resolution stage with the Committee of Ministers, and Jack Straw, the Secretary of State for Justice, is powerless to prevent the inevitable. It maybe a bitter pill to swallow, but swallow it he did.

Had the UK not climbed down when it did, the UK would have been suspended from both the Council of Europe and European Union in March. The Lisbon Treaty brought together the Court, Council of Europe, and European Union under one large umbrella. It now means that s.3 of the Representation of the People Act 1983, which bars all convicted prisoners from voting, can no longer be relied upon by the UK government because international law and European law now take precedence over English law.


Notes for editors

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