24 Jul 2015

Arthur Taylor 'rapt' with voting ruling

6:28 pm on 24 July 2015

An Auckland prisoner says he is rapt with a court ruling that a law banning all prisoners from voting breaches their human rights.

Arthur Taylor in the High Court at Auckland.

Arthur Taylor (left) during the prisoners' voting case in the High Court at Auckland Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker-Wilson

In the High Court, Justice Heath issued a formal declaration that the law, passed in 2010, is inconsistent with the Bill of Rights and is unjustified.

The ruling is a victory for career criminal Arthur Taylor, who has been fighting the ban in court for about a year.

In a recorded statement sent to Radio New Zealand, he said the ruling had far-reaching effects.

"His Honour Justice Heath's very courageous decision strikes a strong blow for the rule of law - not only for prisoners but all other New Zealanders in upholding their fundamental rights against even the Parliament, when it gets things wrong."

At the time the legislation was being considered, the Attorney-General warned Parliament that a blanket ban contravened the Bill of Rights, but the law was passed regardless.

Today's decision is the first time any court in New Zealand has declared a law to be inconsistent with the bill.

Otago University law professor Andrew Geddis said the judge's finding signals to Parliament that the law is wrong.

He said Parliament should take note of that and consider changing or repealing the law.

Read the judgment on the courts' website (PDF, 323KB)