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Court ruling shows law should never have been passed

A High Court ruling that a law banning prisoners from voting is inconsistent with a properly functioning democracy should be a wake-up call for the Government, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.

In an unprecedented ruling Justice Paul Heath has declared the Electoral (Disqualification of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Act 2010, which stops prisoners from voting, is inconsistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, which all laws should be in line with. 

“This was an arbitrary law and one that is full of contradictions and inconsistencies. It was a member's bill that the Government supported, ignoring advice from the Attorney-General and rulings by the UN and European Human Rights Committees.

"The declaratory judgment process that has been used in this case is rare, but the only recourse when there is an obvious breach of basic rights. But it shouldn't have come to that.

“Parliament has a responsibility to respect fundamental rights for all. The Government now has a responsibility to assure all New Zealanders it understands that,” Jacinda Ardern says.