In the Media

Prisoners should be given the vote, says human rights quango

PUBLISHED March 5, 2012

A review by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) will claim the rights of prisoners, gipsies and union activists are regularly abused.

It comes a year after MPs voted against changing the law to allow inmates the right to vote in elections.

The EHRC, which is led by Trevor Phillips, is expected to conclude that "more could be done to improve human rights protections of some" including victims of crime and elderly people in care homes.

The report, which cost £150,000 and is entitled How Fair Is Britain?, seen by the Daily Mail, says: "Human rights ... apply to everyone, even unpopular minorities.

"Offenders may be punished with a prison sentence, which means a denial of their right to liberty. Treating the right to vote as a privilege to be removed for bad behaviour is a disproportionate interference with a fundamental right."

It also claims travellers and gipsies have no other choice but to set up unauthorised camps because local authorities had failed to provide adequate space for them.

The report, which took two years to complete, goes on to criticise the UK's terror laws, suggesting terror suspects should only be held for a maximum of four days without charge compared with the current limit of 14 days.

It says only convicted terrorists should be subject to Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIMs), which have replaced control orders.

The EHRC would appear to be at odds with a group of MPs, which has called for Britain to pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights to free the Government to deport the extremist Abu Qatada.

Professor Geraldine Van Bueren, an EHRC commissioner, said: "Human rights should not only get our attention when people we might not like try to use them. Nor should the value of human rights be limited to when we see what happens to people in other countries when these rights do not exist."