Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Harry Shindler's claim for voting rights rejected by The European Court for Human Rights



The European Court of Human Rights has turned down (7th May 2013) Harry Shindler’s  claim to be allowed to vote for an MP in the House of Commons.
The full text (which runs to 38 pages) can be read here!

Harry is 91. He fought in World War II at the Anzio Beach-head.[Anzio is south of Rome and north of the stalemated front line of Monte Cassino – The beach-head played an important if bloody role in the Allied advance in 1944].  Harry is both a proud Briton and proud European.
The ECHR judgement gives much space to the Parliamentary Assembly of the  Council of Europe [page 10 et seq.]   [The CoE comprises 47 signatory countries far beyond the EU, including  Russia, Turkey and Armenia]
Neither the ECHR nor the CoE are agencies of the European Union!

The Parliamentary  Assembly recommends as follows [page 10 ]
Par. 39 “c. consider the possibility of harmonising member states’ laws in the interests of maintaining the voting rights of their nationals living in another member state with regard to nation-wide elections and referenda, especially with a view to enabling votes to be cast by post or through diplomatic or consular missions;
d. envisage, if appropriate, the drawing up of a protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights whereby member states would undertake to respect such voting rights for their nationals living in another member state and refrain from hindering the exercise thereof by any measure whatever.
Further it is noted [page 11]…
Par. 42 - 4. The Parliamentary Assembly believes that it is in the interest of states to ensure that their expatriate nationals continue to actively exercise their rights linked to nationality and contribute in a variety of ways to the political, economic, social and cultural development of their countries of origin
And [page 11/12].
Par. 43 c. to take account of their expatriates’ interest in policy making, in particular concerning questions of nationality; political rights, including voting rights; economic rights, including taxation and pension rights; social rights, including social schemes; and cultural rights .
And Again [page 12]!!
Par. 47 --b. grant electoral rights to all their citizens (nationals), without imposing residency requirements;
c. facilitate the exercise of expatriates’ electoral rights by providing for absentee voting procedures
And the analysis of the Parliamentary Assembly  comments continues to page 15…
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The report comments on the deliberations of the Committee of Ministers of the  Council of Europe which generally support the observations given above.
***
Considerable space is also afforded [pages 16-19] to deliberations of the Venice Commission – which is another offshoot of the Council of Europe and concerns itself with the issue of Democracy!  This account is an historical  progress and one should read from page 18 paragraph 68 onwards for the latest observations.
Note well it recommends on ‘voting’ ---
Sub paragraph 66. It ensures that citizens maintain ties with their country of origin and boosts their feeling of belonging to a nation of which they are members regardless of geographical, economic or political circumstances.”
70. In the case of states whose citizens live abroad in large numbers, to the extent that their votes could appreciably affect election results, it seems more appropriate to provide parliamentary representation for the citizens resident abroad by pre-defined numbers of members of parliament elected by them.
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Pge 19 – para 74 The document lists the 35 States (out of the 47 in the CoE)  which permit unlimited voting by non-resident nationals.
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In spite of all this detail the ECHR decided unanimously against Harry Shindler.
WHY? 
The legal argument centred on Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention of Human Rights.
“The High Contracting Parties undertake to hold free elections at reasonable intervals by secret ballot, under conditions which will ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature.”
Summary--- THE COURT UNANIMOUSLY
1. Declares the complaint concerning Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 admissible and the remainder of the application inadmissible;
2. Holds that there has been no violation of Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention.

You can judge for yourself.
What will Harry do now!  
He will take his case to the United Nations International Court of Justice.

UNLESS – The British Government will take fair measures to uphold the Rights of  British Nationals to be able to influence the British Government on decisions made by HMG in their name!
Much has been written already on why British Nationals – most especially those residing within the EU/EEA – should have this representation.    The first link below has numerous comments by British Nationals why this should be so…

You can make your own protestations and petition via the following two links.
www.votes-for-expat-brits.com   Here to place your observations.
and – direct to the Government site ---

Author Brian Cave – lefourquet@gmail.com