The voting right of felons
The Constitution of Bangladesh ensures democracy and fundamental human rights. The representative of the country is chosen by the vote of the people. But the fact is, right to vote is not included in the fundamental rights of Bangladesh.
As per the definition of democracy, peoples have the right to choose the representative of the country. Although the representative of Bangladesh is chosen by the vote of the people, the right to vote is not a part of the Constitution. That means the government is somehow not liable to ensure this right. But the right to vote is an acknowledged human right.
UDHR recognizes the right to vote a fundamental right. ICCPR, Article 25 guarantees the voting right. Actually, this right can ensure other rights. The person who has voting right, his other rights ensue impliedly.
When a person has voting power in his hand, the government cannot ignore his other rights. Though it is said that fundamental rights cannot be violated, people cannot practice those rights peacefully in Bangladesh. When the right to vote is not recognized as the fundamental right by the constitution then the government is not obligatory to ensure it.
Article 7 (1) of the Bangladesh Constitution states that the people of Bangladesh belong to all the powers. That ensures that they hold the power to elect their representative. The Constitution of Bangladesh specifies some criteria of the voters.
These criteria are neither explained nor clarified. According to Article 122 of the Bangladesh Constitution defines who can be the voter. In these points, there are no words for the voting rights of Bangladeshi expatriates and felons. Article (2) and (5) states about the unsound mind and Bangladesh Collaborators of 1971. But it doesn't recognize the voting right of the felons.
In many countries, disenfranchise laws deny the felons to vote in different categories according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Though Bangladesh is none of them, still, the felon's right to vote was not introduced by the Bangladesh Government.
Felons cannot demand the voting right as the right to vote and their voting rights are not recognized as the Fundamental Right of the Constitution. Article 28(3) states that no citizen can be discriminated on any grounds. To ensure humanity, the right to vote should be the fundamental one. Without ensuring the right to vote, other rights cannot be ensured for the people.
Suparna Roy is a student of law at the University of Chittagong