Thursday, July 4, 2013

Strasbourg Court Strikes Down Russian Constitution Provision

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)  found a provision of the Russian Constitution to violate the European Convention on Human Rights to which Russia is a party. Specifically, the Constitution imposes a total ban for all convicted prisoner, prohibiting their vote in any elections. In the case of Anchugov and Gladkov v. Russia, the Court concluded that the Russian authorities had gone too far in applying an automatic and indiscriminate ban on the electoral rights of convicted prisoners. Therefore, the Court held that there had been a violation of Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 (right to free elections).  One problem with the decision is that the questionable provision is among those that can not be amended without adopting a new Constitution.  Accordingly, it is unlikely Russia will change the provision in the foreseeable future.  The ECHR, however, seems to suggest  the Russian Constitutional Court should interpret the constitutional provision in a way opposite to its literal meaning: "In the present case, it is open to the respondent Government to explore all possible ways in that respect and to decide whether their compliance with Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 can be achieved through some form of political process or by interpreting the Russian Constitution by the competent authorities – the Russian Constitutional Court in the first place – in harmony with the Convention in such a way as to coordinate their effects and avoid any conflict between them."{"itemid":["003-4425069-5319054"]}{"fulltext":["11157/04"],"itemid":["001-122260"]}

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