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Charon QC podcast: Prisoners and the vote

I spoke to Charon QC earlier about the issue of prisoners’ voting, following Joshua Rozenberg’s recent Guardian Law piece on the subject and the guest post on his blog by John Hirst. We give a bit of background about the ECHR and the European Court of Human Rights before discussing the judgments in Hirst v UK and Frodl v Austria, what the government now has to do legally, what it’s probably thinking about politically and what may happen now.

I’m quite critical of Hirst, in which I think the dissenting majority of five judges was right, and especially of Frodl, in which it seems to me the ECtHR unaccountably distorts Hirst, interpreting it as having laid down principles it expressly avoided laying down and in reality going much further and effectively taking all policy choice away from governments. Well done to Judge Kovler for standing by his dissent in Hirst. Why Judge Jebens changed his mind is unexplained.

Listen to the podcast here.

You’re welcome to comment here of course – but there’s already a discussion going on at Charon’s blog about it, so you might want to join in there.

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  1. I think the reference to direct application is telling…

    Speech by Thorbjørn Jagland
    Secretary General of the Council of Europe
    High-Level Conference
    on the future of the European Court of Human Rights,
    18 February 2010, Interlaken

    “Above all, we need a better and more systematic use of the principle of subsidiarity. State Parties have the primary responsibility to respect human rights, to prevent violations and to remedy them when they occur.

    All States parties have now incorporated the Convention into their national legal systems, but not all have done so with satisfactory effect.

    What we need to achieve is a genuine structural integration of the Convention into national systems, in order to secure its direct application; we need a better implementation of its provisions, including, above all, the obligation to provide effective domestic remedies for alleged violations.

    The Convention cannot be fully and effectively implemented at national level unless the authority of the Court’s case-law is properly recognised in the national legal order.

    Most obviously, States must promptly and fully execute judgments in cases to which they are party, including any general measures that may be required”.
    http://www.coe.int/t/secretarygeneral/sg/speeches/2010/20100218_interlaken_en.asp