n Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - In pursuit of universal suffrage : the right of prisoners in Africa to vote

Volume 46, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



This article assesses decisions of domestic courts in Africa on the right of prisoners to vote. Although there is an increasing recognition of this right to vote at national level, it is difficult to talk of such a 'right' at the international, or African level. Nevertheless, it appears from the decisions of international and regional tribunals that international human rights law is not in favour of automatic and indiscriminate criminal disenfranchisement laws. Some courts in Africa have played an active role in enfranchising prisoners. Yet, the overwhelming majority of African countries continue to exclude prisoners from elections. A decision at the African level, either by the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, or by the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights, can contribute to clarifying the status of the right of prisoners to vote in the African human rights system. Human rights NGOs should, therefore, identity and submit a suitable test case to the commission, and if possible to the court. This article recommends that the African Commission should submit an application requesting the advisory opinion of the African Court on the issue of criminal disenfranchisement with its diverse manifestations.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error