You can’t throw rights out of the song

For the deprivation of the opportunity to have fun in prison, you can get a scolding from the ECHR.

The harsh prison rules did not allow the prisoner to transfer the MP3 player. Because, only relatives have this right. «It’s okay», said government officials. «Where is respect for personal life?»  asked in Strasbourg.

Music is not for everyone

In Vilnius, in order to obtain the right to listen to your favorite songs, the applicant in the case of «Kazlauskas and Nanartonis v. Lithuania» addressed the prison administration, in which he had the honor to pass the time.  Person wanted to convey to him the portable player; person did not fall under the category of people close to him: neither a man, nor a wife, nor a partner, nor a relative. That is why the leadership refused him.

The Department of Penitentiary Institutions justified such a decision, because it completely coincided with the norms of the law.

Then the applicant went to court, where he told his sad story about relatives, who did not care about him, and that the inability to join the beautiful caused moral damage, which the man estimated at € 10,137.

The first instance duplicated the refusal, citing the restriction of the circle of persons who are entitled to transfer something to the prisoners. And they reported that the MP3-player is not a matter of prime necessity. And through access to prohibited entertainment, the court should not be bothered. Colleagues from the higher instance added that the device could have been bought, having received money from … relatives. The desire to listen to music turned out to be stronger than the rules and requirements of the law. The applicant came up with another way to get the player – by the Post. Only in this way could his mother send a device. And here there was a ban – the legislation did not provide for the possibility of delivery as follows.

A year has passed. Apparently, during this time, the prisoner-music lover got the lady of the heart, who gave him a TV and headphones. Since he already had a computer, it could be argued that the applicant had received the whole range of entertainment of a free citizen.

Obviously, even having achieved his own, he did not forget about the absence of the right to receive transmissions from unauthorized persons, and therefore tried to lift the ban in the European Court of Human Rights. Perhaps, in fact, moral harm, expressed in monetary terms, did not give rest to a man.

Family values

The complaint sent to Strasbourg was a failure to comply with the requirements of Article 8 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The inability to get a musical device from a person falls under the category of «friend, acquaintance or benefactor», according to the applicant, causes disrespect for personal life.

The position of the government was reduced to the fact that the detention itself causes a restriction of the rights to private and family life, nothing can be done. Although the intervention was, to him, and the mosquito nose is not undermined, because it should have a legitimate goal. Blessing without goodness does not happen. Such a ban encourages communication with relatives, and therefore strengthens social ties. In addition, in this way, the authorities exclude cases in which criminal items are handed over to prisoners.

Government representatives also focused on the fact that by themselves electronic devices were allowed in prisons, moreover, nobody prohibits the purchase of them for their own or transferred money. And the tools that provide communication with the outside world are one thing and entertainment, such as an MP3 player is another.

The Court first checked the legality of such a restriction and, the applicant was aware of the fact that, firstly, it exists, and secondly, it may entail undesirable consequences. Indeed, such a requirement stipulated by the code on serving sentences, but convicted did not say that it was unexpected for him.

Non-conventional prohibition

The next question is the compatibility of the ban and the convention. After all, all the exceptions that allow one to go beyond its Article 8 «The right to respect for private and family life» have long been known and even listed in a separate provision (paragraph 113 of the decision in the case of «S.A.S. v. France»). The court noted: although the government in its counterarguments and expressed practical thoughts, respect for personal life, they are not crossed out.

The absolute prohibition without any «but» is undoubtedly recognized by the law of the state. However, in this case, its introduction is unjustified, because the judges have put the legitimate goal of such actions into question. And although the applicant was surrounded by electronic devices, the actual obligation to have relatives in order to receive an additional benefit does not comply with Article 8 of the Convention.

However, the ECHR considered it necessary to recognize it as more expensive, so the applicant had to forget about the desired € 10,000. And although it did not work out to get compensation for the bullying, it was possible to eradicate the rule unacceptable for a democratic state.

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