The Instigator
0K0
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
socialpinko
Con (against)
Winning
3 Points

Is the ECHR right in ruling that prisoners should have the right to vote in the UK?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/23/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,492 times Debate No: 15549
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)

 

0K0

Pro

Pro
I would like to retry my original debate and clarify a few points. I am interested in the debate over whether the European Court on Human Rights is right in ruling that the UK must change its law banning convicted prisoners from voting.
My argument is that while not all prisoners should be given the right to vote, the ECHR has made the right decision and the UK government must abide by the ruling and change its law. The UK signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights and therefore the UK must abide by the rulings that the Court makes, failure to comply would a bad example being set for other European countries where, arguably more serious, human rights are denied prisoners. Finally I finish by saying that the right to vote is a human right and once we begin taking away human rights where can we draw the line? If we assume the belief that someone forfits their human rights when convicted of a crime, what is protecting prisoners from unjust treatment and torture?

This is my first argument, but I am interested in how other people feel on this issue.
socialpinko

Con

"My argument is that while not all prisoners should be given the right to vote, the ECHR has made the right decision and the UK government must abide by the ruling and change its law."

"Finally I finish by saying that the right to vote is a human right and once we begin taking away human rights where can we draw the line? "
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I am afraid you have cotradicted yourself here. You claim that not all prisoners should be given the right to vote, however you then go on to right that voting is a human right and then use the slippery slope fallacy to show that this could lead to more human rights violations. If voting is a human right then shouldn't all prisoners be given the right to vote?

You claim that we should take away some prisoners (please clarify as to what prisoners) alleged right to vote, but then cannot I just use your own "where can we draw the line" argument against that position?
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"the ECHR has made the right decision and the UK government must abide by the ruling and change its law. The UK signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights and therefore the UK must abide by the rulings that the Court makes, failure to comply would a bad example being set for other European countries where, arguably more serious, human rights are denied prisoners. "

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This is not relevant to this debate. This debate is not about whether the UK govt. should abide by the ECHR's decision. It is about whether or not the ECHR is correct in their decision.
Debate Round No. 1
0K0

Pro

I would like to thank my opponent for accepting this debate.

Firstly, yes we can agree that voting is a human right. In response to the point raised, the right to vote may be a human right, implied in the European Convention on Human Rights, but with this right comes responsibilities which may be subject to restrictions (as stated in the Convention under Article 10). A prisoner sentenced for a serious offence has failed to uphold these responsibilities and consequently may be subject to a restriction on the right to vote. For this reason all prisoners should not be given the right to vote. Having said this, I do not feel that the point about "where do we draw the line" can be used here because the more basic human rights - such as the right to life- is not accompanied with the same kinds of responsibilities as the right to vote, therefore I think that there is a distinction between the fundamental human rights that are clearly defined in the Convention and others that are inferred.

I would now like to return to the original question: 'Is the ECHR right in ruling that prisoners should have the right to vote in the UK?'.

The ruling (I refer to the case of John Hirst) states that the UK must remove its blanket ban on prisoners voting, however it doesn't state that ALL prisoners must be given the vote. In line with my view that only some prisoners should be given the franchise, I believe that the ECHR is right in its ruling that the UK law restricting all prisoners' right to vote must be changed. To clarify, I take the view that prisoners serving 4 years or less should be awarded the vote, this is because prisoners serving in this time period would be reintroduced into society before the next general election and so the choice of who governs the country will have an important effect on them.
socialpinko

Con

"In response to the point raised, the right to vote may be a human right, implied in the European Convention on Human Rights, but with this right comes responsibilities which may be subject to restrictions "

This is in essence my argument against your position. Someone who has failed to uphold the law has forfeited this right while they are in prison. The point of prison is to punish the offender by taking away certain rights. These are rights which the prisoner would have had, had they not broken the law. However this individual decided to brake the law and therefore must be subject to punishment.
Debate Round No. 2
0K0

Pro

"If voting is a human right then shouldn't all prisoners be given the right to vote?"
"Someone who has failed to uphold the law has forfeited this right while they are in prison"

You seem to be switching your position on this issue (see above). However, I retain my position that the ECHR is right in ruling that prisoners should have the right to vote in the UK. There is an important distinction that needs to be made between different types of prisoners, those that are imprisoned for 4 years or less need to be considered separately from those prisoners who have committed far more serious offences such as murder. The reason that giving prisoners on a sentence of 4 years or less needs to be considered on an individual basis by the judge (which is part of the ruling) is that the decision on how the country is to be governed is directly relevant to this group as they will be effected by the results of an election. For this reason the ECHR is right in its ruling as it allows the UK to distinguish between prisoners.
socialpinko

Con

"If voting is a human right then shouldn't all prisoners be given the right to vote?"
"Someone who has failed to uphold the law has forfeited this right while they are in prison"

"You seem to be switching your position on this issue"
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I apologize if you took these quotes out of context and didn't bother to look to see what they really meant. The first quote was me applying your axiom that voting is a human right and applying it to something you said after that. The quote is listed below.
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"My argument is that while not all prisoners should be given the right to vote, the ECHR has made the right decision and the UK government must abide by the ruling and change its law."

"Finally I finish by saying that the right to vote is a human right and once we begin taking away human rights where can we draw the line? "
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You actually stated that voting was a human right and then put that some prisoner's 'right' to vote should be taken away. I do not actually believe voting is a human right. I was merely showing that you made two points which contradicted each other.

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"the decision on how the country is to be governed is directly relevant to this group as they will be effected by the results of an election."

What if a prisoner is sent to prison for a relatively minor crime such as petty theft. Not too serious but serious enough to get into some trouble. Let's say this prisoner has a sentence of 3 years, and also owned a small business? Shouldn't he be allowed to still run his business while he is in jail since he will be affected by it in a major way once he gets out?

Determining how relevant something will be is too relative. Should a criminal be allowed to go home to watch the milestones of his baby as this will definitely be relevant to him as he will definitely be emotionally affected? You did not define well enough the term relevant or to what degree it can be applied.

All in all, a fallacious argument.

VOTE CON
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by wolfhaines 6 years ago
wolfhaines
ECHR was right to make that ruling, as it stands by the letter of their own law (HR).
Is the law right? In theory- yes. In practice- no.
Prisoners should only be able to vote when their other human rights might be affected by a change in government. How this would be judged is next to impossible to work out.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
0K0socialpinkoTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro could not sustain the BoP.