Monday, 15 May 2017

Should Prisoners Have the Right to Vote?

by Lily Godkin

In the UK prisoners do not have the right to vote, although The European Court of Human Rights has stated repeatedly that denying prisoners the right to vote is a breach of their human rights, the governments within the UK have to some extent chosen to ignore this. Although the UK has promised obey the court's decisions, not the European government, nor anybody else for that matter, can by any means force the UK to change their laws regarding prisoner's and the vote.

So legally the European Convention on Human Rights states that ‘all may vote once they reach voting age, regardless of their criminal status’. Surely convicts are human entitling them to human rights? and if the courts intentions by sending them to prison is reformation and improvement, then this is not achievable by treating them as something lesser as then we can only expect them to live up to what we are treating them as, animals. These people deserve the right to vote for the party and leader that will affect their lives, they are trying to be fixed, not punished. Surely they will live under the influence of the government as much as we do as citizens on the outside world. So why are governments now considering letting 16 and 17 year olds vote and not considering prisoners? The reason we agreed to follow the laws of the European convention was to move towards a world of peace integration and respect for fundamental human rights, something that has served us well over the past seven decades, so why ignore this?

So of course you would argue that these prisoners do not deserve the vote as they do not pay tax, but neither do most 18 year olds still living with their parents, or homeless people, yet no one deprives these citizens of their human right to vote, and certainly 16 and 17 year olds will be paying little tax and yet the labours continue to consider handing them a slip. Others may argue the angle that they are being punished and the right to vote is a privilege, but it simply is not, no one must earn their right to vote, and that is the luxury of the modern day dynamics of British society, we are all handed a slip and a say as an acknowledgment of simply being citizens. Therefore, surely you would argue that whilst imprisoned they are no longer human if they have lost this human right? 

So do they lose their right to “Freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment” – article 3 or “Freedom of thought, belief and religion”- article 9? At what extent have you lost enough human rights that you are no longer human?

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