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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Labour's unfortunate leaving present for the LibCons coalition

Labour's unfortunate leaving present for the LibCons coalition

Tony Blair pledged that prisoners would not get the vote under a Labour government. Indeed, Labour was voted out of office and succeeded in ensuring that the UK failed to honour its obligations under the Convention for as long as possible. It would appear that Labour's tactic was to let the Conservatives get the blame for allowing prisoners to vote. For example, in February, at the Intelaken Conference, David Miliband reaffirmed the UK's commitment to abide by the Convention and Court decisions. Then the last Act passed just before the general election was Labour's Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill. In particular, Part 8, Human rights claims against devolved administrations, sss. 62,63 and 64. Both of these measures meant that the next government would have no option but to give convicted prisoners the vote. There is a touch of irony that the party firmly against this reform committing the next government to implementing it!

Within the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), is the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights and it has published its report "Effective implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights: the Interlaken process".


"The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights welcomes the declaration and action plan which emerged from February’s high-level conference on the future of the European Court of Human Rights in Interlaken, especially its recognition of the basic principle that human rights must be guaranteed first and foremost at national level. Convention rights need to be better implemented nationally, states with major structural problems which give rise to repeated breaches of the Convention must deal with these more effectively, and Court judgments should be swiftly and fully executed.

For their part, parliaments can play a key role in stemming the flood of applications by, for example, scrutinising draft laws to make sure they are compatible with Convention standards and keeping up the pressure on governments to execute Court judgments.

Lastly, the committee welcomes the changes introduced by the entry into force in June 2010 of Protocol No. 14 to the Convention, and spells out when the new nine-year term of office for judges will begin".

At their meeting to supervise and execute ECtHR decisions between 1-3 June 2010 the Committee of Ministers gave the UK until September to remedy the continuing breach of convicted prisoners human rights to vote.

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