2007) and thesecondlooked at the practicalities of enfranchising prisoners (completed2009). In June 2010 the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers (CM) gave theGovernment a three-month deadline to announce changes to the blanket ban. The Courtreceived 2,500 similar applications, including
anddecided to adopt the “pilot judgment procedure”,
giving the UK Government six months fromthe date when
Greens and M.T.
became final to introduce legislation to bring the disputedlaw into line with the Convention. The Court also decided that it would not examine anycomparable cases pending new legislation, and would strike out all such registered casesonce legislation had been introduced in the UK. Pending cases concerning prisoners’ right tovote include
Apinis v. Latvia
Gladkov v. Russia
(no. 15162/05) and
Toner v.the United Kingdom
(no. 8195/08).In September 2010, some five years after the
ruling, and in the absence of anyGovernment remedy, the CM outlined the kind of solution it would find acceptable:
The measures to be adopted should ensure that if a restriction is maintained onthe right of convicted persons in custody to vote, such a restriction isproportionate with a discernible and sufficient link between the sanction, andthe conduct and circumstances of the individual concerned.
On 2 December 2010 the CM commented for the fourth time on the UK Government’s failureto implement changes to the blanket ban on prisoners voting in time for the May 2010general election, and announced that it would reconsider the matter in March 2011 “in thelight of further information to be provided by the authorities on general measures”.
TheCommittee also “Expressed hope that the elections scheduled for 2011 in Scotland, Walesand Northern Ireland can be performed in a way that complies with the Convention” andcalled on the UK to “present an action plan for implementation of the judgment whichincludes a clear timetable for the adoption of the measures envisaged, without further delay”.On 11 January 2011 there was aWestminster Hall adjournment debateon the matter ofprisoner enfranchisement, in which many Members were against giving prisoners the right tovote.On 26 January 2011 the CoE Parliamentary Assembly approved draft recommendations andproposals to improve the Committee of Ministers’ oversight of the implementation of Court judgments. The draft resolution stated in paragraph 7.10 that “The United Kingdom must putto an end the practice of delaying full implementation of Court judgments with respect topolitically sensitive issues, such as prisoners’ voting rights”.
On 10 February 2011 theHouse of Commons debated the issueagain and backed a motionby 234 to 22 on a free vote opposing giving prisoners the right to vote. Ministers andopposition frontbenchers abstained.On 1 March 2011 the Governmentupdated the CMon national developments on the prisonervoting issue. The Note tackled the CM’s criticism that there had been no substantiveparliamentary debate on the disenfranchisement of prisoners by pointing to the two recent
Application nos. 60041/08 & 60054/08
For further information on the pilot judgment procedure, see SN/IA/5936, 14 April 2011.