Universal franchise for prisoners CPRP asks EC to implement programme

The Committee for Protecting the Rights of Prisoners (CPRP), yesterday (17), requested the Election Commission (EC) to create and implement a practical programme of action, to allow suspects-cum-prisoners the right to exercise the universal franchise, to vote as electors at polls and referendums.  

Chairman of the Committee, Attorney-at-Law Senaka Perera, speaking to Ceylon Today, said that a letter in this connection was handed over to the Chairman of the Commission, Mahinda Deshapriya, whom they met in person and discussed with yesterday.

“Prisoners are twofold – suspects and convicts. Article 13(5) of the Constitution entitles suspects to the presumption of innocence, while Article 89 provides for certain types of convicts who have served a certain specific period of their sentence, specifically term of imprisonment, to exercise their suffrage.”

Deshapriya showed a very positive response and informed us that he would look into the matter and take necessary action, he claimed.

Article 3 holds that the franchise is part of the inalienable sovereignty of the people, and Article 4 allows for every citizen who has attained the age of 18 years, if he or she is qualified to be an elector and his or her name is entered in the register of electors, to exercise the franchise at Presidential and Parliamentary Elections and referendums.

Article 88 deals with the right to be an elector, unless disqualified. Article 89, which deals with disqualifications to be an elector, among others, being found or declared by law as being of unsound mind, being convicted for offences punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of two years being given the death sentence, being convicted of any offence (including a corrupt or illegal practice) under Sections 52(1) and 53 of the Ceylon (Parliamentary Elections) Order in Council of 1946, of bribery under the Bribery Act, Sections 77-82 of the Local Authorities Elections Ordinance, Sections 2-3 of the Public Bodies (Prevention of Corruption) Ordinance, and Sections 188-201 of the Penal Code, or civic disabilities as per Article 81 being imposed through a passed resolution, or being convicted of contempt of Court in connection with the authority of a Special Presidential Commission of Inquiry, unless the requisite specified period (a part of the entire term) of the term of imprisonment is completely served, as disqualifications.  

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