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James' Story

Currently, most people serving prison sentences are not allowed to vote (this can be traced back to a law from Victorian times, from before human rights were set down in law). This applies to all prisoners regardless of what offence they have been convicted of or the sentence they are serving. James and a number of other people in prison challenged this blanket ban, arguing it wasn’t a proportionate restriction of the right to vote under the Human Rights Act. The case went all the way to the European Court of Human Rights, who said that restrictions need to be proportionate and blanket bans in general tend to fall foul of human rights laws because there is no ability to consider the circumstances of a person or particular group. Also, as the ban was so old, the Court said the UK needed to re-look at the issue and decide what would be a proportionate restriction. Although Parliament has looked at the issue, little progress has been made. This has meant more people in prison have asked the European Court of Human Rights to look again at the issue.

(McHugh and others v UK 2015

Key information


Rights this relates to: 
Article 3l Protocol 1: The right to free elections

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