6 comments on “Prisoner Votes and Human Rights Humbug

  1. Strictly speaking, of course, the European Court of Human Rights is not part of the EU – it answers to the Council of Europe. That is why it has never fined anyone – it doesn’t have the power to do so. It merely interprets a system set up by diplomatic agreement.

    That raises in itself a very interesting legal point. Suppose Cameron does call the ECHR’s bluff entirely and do nothing, or compromises – would the EU, under the Treaty of Nice, actually do anything to uphold the decision of a court that is not part of its judicial system? Or indeed, could it? Are there precedents for any supranational organizations imposing the will of an alien court because of a treaty convention? A rummage in the CIS archive might be profitable from that point of view.

    Looking at these numbers, we may be about to find out what happens when an ECHR ruling proves unenforceable by the court. It should be very interesting indeed.

    • You are right about the ECHR. As I said, it doesn’t have the power to enforce anything.

      What’s more, the EU itself has not yet ratified the Convention, which means the European Court of Justice (the Supreme Court of the EU) does not have the power or duty to enforce the Convention.

      However, all this is academic unless Cameron repeals the Human Rights Act. That Act gives British courts the right and duty to uphold the decisions of the ECHR, by incorporating the Convention into British law. As the law stands right now, the prisoners denied the vote could appeal to a British court for redress.

    • what about when Britain had to pay compensation to foreign trawlers who had been banned from fishing in our waters?

      • The fisheries compensation was ordered by the European Court of Justice I believe, which is the high court of the EU. We are subject to that court by virtue of our membership of the EU. EU law includes the fisheries policy, and the right for the European Court of Justice to fine member states who do not adhere to EU law.

        That is not the same as the European Court of Human Rights. As Huw said, the ECHR is not an EU body. It has no power to fine us. But its provisions were enacted into British law by the last Labour government (via the Human Rights Act), and therefore a British court can fine the British government or award damages to prisoners denied the vote. The only way to stop that is to repeal the Human Rights Act.

  2. Why not give prisoners the vote. After all there are far more villains out than in prison.
    And look what giving the populace as a whole the vote has done to Britain.

    • Whether it is a good idea to give prisoners the vote is another matter. The politicians seem to be agreed that it is a bad idea, but are all spinning away to show it’s not their fault!

      I also don’t really see why the decision on this should be made for us by foreign courts that are not answerable to British politicians or electorate.

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