Prisoner votes ban in Scottish independence referendum ECHR compliant
Responding to a call for evidence on the Scottish Independence Referendum (Franchise) Bill, the Law Society of Scotland has today (25 March 2013) stated that it believes that the prohibition on prisoners voting in the referendum should be compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights.
The UK Parliament has been considering a draft Bill to extend the right to vote to certain categories of prisoners, following a 2005 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, which found the UK had breached the Convention by imposing a general ban on prisoners voting.
Michael Clancy, Director of Law Reform at the Law Society of Scotland, said: "Section 3 of the Franchise Bill provides that prisoners will not be allowed to vote in the Scottish independence referendum. The Law Society of Scotland has considered this provision in light of judgments by the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled that a blanket ban on prisoner voting is incompatible with the Convention.
"However, these cases have referred to elections for a national legislature, not referendums. Whilst a challenge to the provision is entirely possible, the Law Society of Scotland considers such a challenge is unlikely to be successful."
Notes to editors
A full copy of the Law Society's response to the Scottish Independence Referendum (Franchise) Bill can be found on the Society's website.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Please contact Julia Brown on 0131 476 8204 or Val McEwan on 0131 226 884.
25 March 2013