The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and United Kingdom Law

By David Harris; Sarah Joseph | Go to book overview

which 'facilitates an escape from legal custody or the doing of an act prejudicial to the safekeeping of persons in legal custody' is likely to satisfy Article 19(3).


ARTICLE 25

Interpretation

This Article guarantees the right of citizens to take part in the conduct of public affairs, in particular to vote and stand for election, 'without unreasonable restrictions'.86 In the prison context this has been the subject of consideration by the HRC in C.F. et al. v. Canada (113/ 1981), where Canadian prisoners challenged a bar on their voting in provincial elections. The communication was dismissed by the HRC on the ground of non- exhaustion of domestic remedies. These remedies were subsequently to prove adequate in Badger v. Attorney-General of Manitoba87 where the domestic court found a breach of section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees the right to vote.


United Kingdom Compliance

Section 3 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 prohibits convicted prisoners from voting in local or general elections during the period of their imprisonment. As a result of section 1 of the Representation of the People Act 1981, anyone sentenced to more than one year in prison in the United Kingdom or Ireland is debarred from membership of the House of Commons during the period of their imprisonment. These provisions appear to amount to a fairly clear breach of Article 25 and the issue has arisen during consideration of previous reports by the United Kingdom. In these the government has argued that the restriction is not unreasonable and is justified in the name of good order and discipline.88 It is a matter which the HRC seems likely to return to.


CONCLUSIONS

Considerations of space make it impossible to consider in sufficient depth all the areas of prison life which raise potential issues under the Covenant.

____________________
86
See generally, ch. 16.
87
( 1986) 55 CR (3d) 464.
88
See e.g. CCPR/C/SR.1048, para. 10.

-293-

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