The continued failure to implement Hirst v UK #echr

mail prisIt is over a decade now since the European Court of Human Rights delivered Hirst v United Kingdom (6 October 2005), ruling that the UK’s blanket (legislative) ban on convicted prisoners voting breached Art 3 of Protocol 1 to the Convention. Five years ago, in Greens and MT v UK (23 Nov 2010), the Court ordered the UK to table Convention-compliant legislative proposals to secure compliance with Hirst. This resulted in a Report of a special Joint Committee of the UK Parliament (the Report of the Joint Committee on the Draft Prisoner Voting (Eligibility) Bill (16 December 2013)), which concluded that the law reform required to secure compliance with the Convention was comparatively minor, agreed that there were sound reasons to amend the law and proposed specific ways forward.

Two years on and the UK government has done no more than acknowledge the Report, which Parliament has not considered. With the law still not amended, on 9 December 2015 a further milestone in the chronology of prisoner voting saga occurred when the Committee of Ministers passed a second interim resolution highly critical of the UK’s inaction. The Daily Telegraph has reported this as a victory for the UK, although, in fact, the Committee of Ministers will return to the matter in December 2016.

This post discusses and criticises the reasons for inaction and non-compliance supplied by the Michael Gove (Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice) when he appeared before the House of Lords’ Select Committee on the Constitution on 2 December 2015 (Q 11, pp17-18 [unrevised version]). Continue reading


The Russian Constitutional Court on the ECHR (and UK parallels?)

pic… just a few lines to note that a judgment from the Russian Constitutional Court (RCC) last week – on which see this very informative post by Maria Smirnova here – has stirred some interest, and prompted the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to issue a Press Release expressing her concerns (see here). I’d be fascinated to know more about the judgment, and what it reveals about the situation in Russia generally regarding the ECHR, and the outlook of the RCC. If I understand matters correctly:

  • the judgment stands for the proposition that, as a matter of Russian Constitutional law, Strasbourg judgments in which Russia has been found to violate the Convention do not need to be implemented if doing so breaches the Russian Constitution (but the ‘right to object’ should only be exercised in exceptional cases)
  • in order to determine such a question the RCC has now clarified the procedural means by which cases may reach it.

I understand that, from one angle, the ruling itself can be interpreted in a positive way, in the sense that the RCC indicates that it will strive to find a harmonious interpretation of the national constitution and ECHR law, and look to enter into a ‘constructive dialogue’ with Strasbourg on these matters (the position adopted by other apex courts).

Then again, commentators are also suggesting that Continue reading