Interim Resolution CM/ResDH(2009)1601

Execution of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights
Hirst against the United Kingdom No. 2

(Application No. 74025/01, Grand Chamber judgment of 06/10/2005)

The Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Article 46, paragraph 2, of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which provides that the Committee supervises the execution of final judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (hereinafter “the Convention” and “the Court”);

Recalling that, in the present judgment, the Court found that the general, automatic and indiscriminate restriction on the right of convicted prisoners in custody to vote, fell outside any acceptable margin of appreciation and was incompatible with Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention;

Recalling that the Court, while acknowledging that the rights bestowed by Article 3 of Protocol 1 are not absolute, expressly noted that in the present case the blanket restriction applied automatically to all prisoners, irrespective of the length of their sentence, the nature or gravity of their offence and their individual circumstances;

Recalling further that the Court found “no evidence that Parliament has ever sought to weigh the competing interests or to assess the proportionality of a blanket ban on the right of a convicted prisoner to vote”;

Noting that the blanket restriction imposed by Section 3 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 remains in full force and effect;

Recalling that the United Kingdom authorities, in a revised Action Plan submitted in December 2006, committed to undertaking a two-stage consultation process to determine the measures necessary to implement the judgment of the Court, with a view to introducing the necessary draft legislation before Parliament in May 2008;

Noting that the United Kingdom authorities have provided detailed information as regards the consultation process, and that they are committed to continuing to do so;

Noting however that the second consultation stage ended on 29 September 2009, and the United Kingdom authorities are now undertaking a detailed analysis of the responses thereto, in order to determine how best to implement a system of prisoner enfranchisement based on the length of custodial sentence handed down to prisoners,

    EXPRESSES SERIOUS CONCERN that the substantial delay in implementing the judgment has given rise to a significant risk that the next United Kingdom general election, which must take place by June 2010, will be performed in a way that fails to comply with the Convention;

    URGES the respondent state, following the end of the second stage consultation period, to rapidly adopt the measures necessary to implement the judgment of the Court;

    DECIDES to resume consideration of this case at their 1078th meeting (March 2010) (DH), in the light of further information to be provided by the authorities on general measures.

1 Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 3 December 2009 at the 1072nd meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies.


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