By Kerry McGinty and Sylvie Metcalfe
European Parliament has passed a human rights legislation that enables prisoners to have the same voting rights as law abiding citizens. The PM David Cameron has admitted that the coalition government will have no choice but to allow prisoners the right to vote. Constitutional reform minister Mark Harper declared “this isn’t a choice, it’s and obligation”. The decision is has caused much anger and outrage within parliament and the public as this decision has been forced upon UK Law.
The case was brought to the European court by John Hirst in October 2005 it has been a long legal battle but the ban on votes for prisoners, that has been around for 140 years, has finally been overturned. John Hirst a convicted murderer who spent 25 years in prison for hacking his landlady to death with an axe posted a “celebratory” video on Youtube where he is quoted saying;
“Finally won out. I’m now going to celebrate for the 75,000 prisoners who will be getting the vote – that includes murderers, rapists, paedophiles, all of them will be getting the vote because it’s their human right to have the vote. You can’t start moralising and say which ones can and can’t have the vote.”
However not all offenders are said to be getting the opportunity to vote. It is unclear at this stage but it is being discussed whether or not voting privileges will depend on the length of the offender’s sentence.
Prime minister David Cameron is said to be “exasperated and furious” but it appears that our government is somewhat powerless at this stage. The decision has been made and there is no choice but to abide by the law set by the European Court of Human Rights. Prisoners who have no respect for the human rights of others have ironically been bestowed with a vote by Human Rights law. This is all in spite of public and parliamentary outrage.