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Prisoners' Rights

Gerrard v UK  (21451/93):  The AIRE Centre represented the Applicant in this case which concerned the right of prisoners to confidential correspondence with their legal representatives and the Court. The Commission declared admissible the Applicant's complaints under  Article 8 (the right to correspondence) that his privileged correspondence with his lawyers had been opened and read by the prison authorities. After admissibility the case settled. The Prison Rules were amended to provide that if legal correspondence was to be opened by the prison authorities, it could only be done in the presence of the prisoner.

Prisoners' Voting Rights

Frodl Austria (20201/04): The AIRE Centre represented the Applicant in this case who was a serving prisoner.  Austrian law excluded prisoners' serving sentences of over one year from voting. The Court found a violation of Article 3 of Protocol 1 and reaffirmed the principles set out in Hirst (No. 2). The Court emphasised that prisoners in detention continued to enjoy all fundamental rights, except the right to liberty. The Court stated that the principle of proportionality requires a link between the offence committed and issues relating to elections and democratic institutions to ensure the disenfranchisement of losing the right to vote is exceptional, and that this should be accompanied by individual reasons delivered by a judicial decision.

Hirst v UK (No 2) (74025/01): The AIRE Centre submitted a third party intervention in this case which concerned the blanket ban on convicted prisoners in the United Kingdom voting in elections. The Centre's intervention highlighted the connection between the normalisation of life in prison and successful reintegration into society on release. It looked at the role of voting in reintegration.  The Court found a violation of Article 3 of Protocol 1 to the Convention. The Court emphasised the role of universal suffrage in democratic society and held that any interference with the right to vote must be proportionate, that is that there must be a link between the offence committed and issues relating to elections and democratic institutions. The judgment was delivered in October 2005 but, as of yet, the UK has failed to implement it. The AIRE Centre (together with the Prison Reform Trust) continues to make representations to the Committee of Ministers, which is responsible for overseeing the execution of judgments, in relation to this failure.

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