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Hong Kong court rules inmates have constitutional right to vote

[JURIST] A judge in the Court of First Instance of the High Court of Hong Kong [Judiciary website] ruled on Monday that inmates have a constitutional right to vote while serving sentences. The court's decision stipulates that the justice department and the electoral commission must find a way to implement it within 14 days. A spokesman from the Constitutional Affairs and Mainlaind Bureau [official website] said that the government will study [The Standard report] the judgment and consider how to proceed. The court ruling would enable inmates to vote in territory elections for the first time in Hong Kong's history.

Inmates should have the right to vote according to Article 21 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights [text] that states that the people's will should be expressed in "periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage." The European Convention on Human Rights [text] protects the right to free elections, and only nine states, including the UK [JURIST report], do not allow inmates the right to vote. In the US, federal law allows states to determine their own voting rules [JURIST report], resulting in a full range of restrictions and freedoms to inmate's right to vote across the states.

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