Prisoners voting rights ruling [ECHR]

Hirst v. the United Kingdom, European Court of Human Rights, October 6, 2005 [ruling that the UK Representation of the People Act of 1983 breached John Hirst's human rights by depriving him of his right to vote while in prison]. Excerpt:

In this case, the Court would begin by underlining that prisoners in general continue to enjoy all the fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Convention save for the right to liberty, where lawfully imposed detention expressly falls within the scope of Article 5 of the Convention. For example, prisoners may not be ill-treated, subjected to inhuman or degrading punishment or conditions contrary to Article 3 of the Convention; they continue to enjoy the right to respect for family life, the right to freedom of expression, the right to practise their religion, the right of effective access to a lawyer or to court for the purposes of Article 6, the right to respect for correspondence and the right to marry. Any restrictions on these other rights require to be justified, although such justification may well be found in the considerations of security, in particular the prevention of crime and disorder, which inevitably flow from the circumstances of imprisonment. There is, therefore, no question that a prisoner forfeits his Convention rights merely because of his status as a person detained following conviction. Nor is there any place under the Convention system, where tolerance and broadmindedness are the acknowledged hallmarks of democratic society, for automatic disenfranchisement based purely on what might offend public opinion. [citations omitted]
Read the full text of the judgment. Reported in JURIST's Paper Chase here.

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