Wednesday, November 03, 2010

UK prisoners to be allowed to vote

Currently, National MP Paul Quinn, with the full support of his party, is trying to ban all prisoners from voting via his Electoral (Disqualification of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Bill. Meanwhile, the UK government will be doing the reverse:

Prisoners are to get the right to vote as the government is poised to throw in the towel in a long-running legal tussle with the European court of human rights, it emerged today.

It is understood that the coalition is to confirm that it is ready to change the law to remove the voting ban on more than 70,000 inmates of British jails.

The move comes after government lawyers advised that failure to comply with a 2004 ECHR ruling could cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds in litigation costs and compensation.

[Link added]

As I pointed out last month when this first sprang up, this is a perfect example of why we need an enforceable Bill of Rights Act. The UK is being forced to change to conform with international law because it signed up to the ECHR, and the European Court of Human Rights' rulings are binding upon it. Meanwhile, our lack of an enforceable human rights instrument means that our Parliament is allowed to pass legislation which violates our rights, and there is nothing we can do about it. But that is not how liberal democracies operate in the 21st century. They have checks and balances to prevent exactly that sort of behaviour. Its time we got some too.