Oct 09, 2019

Petition seeking voting rights for prisoners Featured

A prisoners’ rights group today (Oct 9) filed a writ petition at the Supreme Court seeking a court order to grant remanded inmates and certain prisoners a chance to exercise their right to vote.
The petition had been filed by the Committee for Protecting the Rights of Prisoners (CPRP), arguing that no steps have been taken to protect this right.

The CPRP pointed out that under Article 89 of the constitution which states that an individual serving or having served an imprisonment term for six months or less for committing an offence of which the punishment is less than two years, is eligible to vote.

Further, the petitioner stated that Article 13 (5) of the constitution states that a person shall be presumed innocent until he is proved guilty.

The rights group said the Chairman of the National Election Commission (NEC) had admitted that these individuals possess the right to vote. “...no practical method had been implemented for such prisoners or inmates to exercise their right to vote,” the petition read.

Accordingly, the petitioners sought a court order directing the NEC Chairman and the Justice Minister to set-up a mechanism to allow these prisoners and inmates to exercise their voting rights.

The Attorney General, NEC Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya, NEC Commissioners N.J. Abeysekara and Rathnajeewan Hoole, Justice Minister Thalatha Athukorale, and Commissioner General of Prisons W.Thennakoon have been named as respondents to the petition.