The current Coalition Government has repeatedly announced its disapproval of European institutions, including the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights. A popular opinion in Whitehall is that Europe is forcing itself on Britain and its values. This is an unfortunate approach.
The European Convention on Human Rights is a significant regional human rights instrument. Judgments from the European Court of Human Rights, are subject to be implemented by member states who enjoy a margin of appreciation. However, the final say stays with the Court. Any other way would weaken the system.
The Government is currently dragging its feet over compliance with the Court’s ruling that a blanket ban on prisoners’ voting rights is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. Currently, no prisoner has the right to vote in the UK. This ban is indiscriminate and does not take into account the severity of the crime nor any other individual factors.
Fortunately, human rights are more than mere privileges. Their existence and application do not cease simply because its subjects’ circumstances change. After all, prisoners are very much affected by Governmental policies.