monday, 12 november of 2018


New Zealand Supreme Court rules ban on prisoner voting inconsistent with bill of rights

The Supreme Court of New Zealand ruled Friday that denying prisoners the right to vote is inconsistent with the country’s Bill of Rights. This ruling reaffirms a previous declaratory statement issued by New Zealand’s High Court.

Section 12 of New Zealand’s Bill of Rights reads:

Every New Zealand citizen who is of or over the age of 18 years—(a) has the right to vote in genuine periodic elections of members of the House of Representatives.

In 2010 the government passed the Electoral (Disqualification of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Act 2010, which increased New Zealand’s previous voting prohibition to all prisoners. Originally the prohibition only applied to prisoners serving sentences of three or more years.

Through their original claim, five prisoners sought a declaration of inconsistency from New Zealand’s High Court, acknowledging that a new amendment was inconsistent with Section 12. The court acquiesced, citing that it was their role to notify the public of a breach of the Bill of Rights.

This original ruling saw backlash from the government, which attempted to appeal the declaratory statement. Eventually, the Supreme Court of New Zealand received the case and once again affirmed the declaration of inconsistency.

The Supreme Court’s decision focused solely on the High Court’s authority to make such a declaratory statement. The Supreme Court additionally acknowledged that the type of remedy need not be determined and it was a matter for Parliament to resolve.

(Published Jurist Org, November 9, 2018)

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