Convicts should be able to vote in local elections, rules Constitutional Court

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The Constitutional Court has ruled that a legal provision banning people serving sentences after criminal conviction from voting in local elections goes against the Constitution, LETA reports.

The person who filed the complaint is currently serving a prison sentence and could not vote in the 2021 local elections.

The plaintiff asked the Constitutional Court to look into Section 6, Paragraph 2 of the Law on the Election of Local Government Councils, which stipulates that persons who are serving a sentence in places of deprivation of liberty may not vote in local elections.

The plaintiff claimed that the legal provision went against the Constitution's Article 101, which stipulates that local governments are elected by Latvian citizens and citizens of the European Union who permanently reside in Latvia.

The Constitutional Court confirmed that the contested provision in the Law on the Election of Local Government Councils was unconstitutional. The Constitutional Court's ruling cannot be appealed.

"Universal suffrage is a principle established both in the Latvian legal system and in international law, and it follows that it is essential that every citizen be able to exercise his right to vote without unreasonable restrictions. The automatic exclusion of any group of society that is serving a sentence... contradicts the general principle of electoral rights," the Court said.

"The Constitutional Court concluded that it is not possible to establish that the general and automatic restriction of fundamental rights established by the contested norm for a group of persons serving the basic penalty of deprivation of liberty would protect any essential, important public interests," the Court said in its explanation.

Prison inmates already have the right to vote in Saeima parliamentary elections.

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