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Europe rights court rules UK ban on prisoner voting violates human rights

[JURIST] The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] ruled [judgment; press release, PDF] Tuesday that the UK's ban preventing prisoners from voting violates their human rights. The judgment came on a case brought by 10 British prisoners who claimed that the voting ban, which prohibits prisoners from voting in national or European elections, breached their right to free elections under EU law by denying them the ability to vote in the 2009 European Parliamentary elections [official results]. Although the court agreed that the ban was a violation of the prisoners' human rights, their claim for damages was rejected. The ECHR has ruled [BBC report] against the UK similarly in the past.

JURIST guest columnist Richard Edwards of the University of the West of England Bristol Law School described [JURIST feature] the "constitutional crisis" facing the UK over prisoner disenfranchisement. The Supreme Court of the UK [official website] rejected a challenge [JURIST report] to the Representation of the People Act [text], the statute that prohibits prisoner voting, in October 2013. In October 2012 a former UK prisoner filed suit [JURIST report] against the British government for denying his voting rights. The ECHR ruled [JURIST report] in May 2012 that EU member states should be given broad discretion to determine which prisoners can be given the right to vote.

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