Murderers Lose Right-to-Vote Dispute in Britain’s Highest Court
Two convicted British murderers can’t vote while in jail after the U.K. Supreme Court ruled it didn’t infringe on their human rights.
“There can be no question about the United Kingdom’s entitlement to deprive a prisoner in his position of the vote,” Judge Jonathan Mance said in the written ruling today. George McGeoch and Peter Chester are both serving life sentences for murder in the U.K.
Prime Minister David Cameron, who told lawmakers in the House of Commons last year that the thought of votes for prisoners made him feel “sick,” said he welcomed today’s decision by the London-based court.
“The Supreme Court judgment on prisoner voting is a great victory for common sense,” Cameron said on his Twitter feed.
The premier is seeking to assert the supremacy of the U.K. Parliament over European laws, both to appeal to euro-skeptic lawmakers within his ruling Conservative Party, and as he prepares to renegotiate the country’s membership of the European Union if he retains power in 2015.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2005 that a ban on prisoners being able to vote was contrary to human-rights law, while leaving it up to individual countries to decide who should have the right to vote.
“Prisoners’ voting is an emotive subject,” Judge Brenda Hale said in the written ruling. “Some people feel very strongly that prisoners should not be allowed to vote. It is not surprising, therefore, that in February 2011 elected parliamentarians also voted overwhelmingly against any relaxation of the present law.”
Chester was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his niece in 1997. McGeoch was also charged with violently escaping from prison while serving his life term.
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