12 September 2018 Wednesday

İbrahim Kaptan (2) (no. 2017/30723, 12 September 2018)

The Facts

The applicant is currently being held in a penitentiary institution for membership of an armed terrorist organization.

It is set forth in the Law no. 5275 on the Execution of Penalties and Security Measures that the prisoners held for terrorism-related offences may not be delivered the documents received through courier or their relatives, save for the course books sent to the prisoners continuing their education.

Relying on the relevant Law and the letter of the General Directorate of Prisons and Detention Houses, the Administrative and Supervisory Board of the Penitentiary Institution (“the Board”) decided that the prisoners held for terrorism-related offences would not be delivered the documents received through courier or their relatives.

The applicant’s objection to this decision was dismissed by the execution judge on the ground that the decision had been given in accordance with the laws and regulations. Besides, the applicant’s appeal against the decision of the execution judge was dismissed by the assize court. The applicant subsequently lodged an individual application.

The Applicant’s Allegations

The applicant, held in the penitentiary institution, maintained that his freedom of expression was violated due to the prison officers’ denial to deliver him the documents, other than course books, received through courier or his relatives.

The Court’s Assessment

In the present case, the applicant complained about the prison officers’ categorically denying the periodicals or non-periodicals sent to the institution by courier or brought by the prisoners’ visitors in order to be delivered to them. According to the data from the Ministry of Justice, at the material time, there were approximately 245.000 detainees and convicts in the penitentiary institutions.

Requiring the administrations of the penitentiary institutions to examine all publications sent to the prisoners before delivery may hinder the administrations from fulfilling their duties properly in order to maintain order and security in the institution as well as to prevent crimes. As a matter of fact, aims such as the prevention of the communication between the members of the terrorist organization or of any order or instruction from the organization are also mentioned in the Board decision.

The applicant has access to periodicals and non-periodicals through the administration of the penitentiary institution, on condition of depositing their price in the deposit account. He is also allowed to use the library in the institution. The applicant did not complain that the system enabling the prisoners to demand publications by depositing their price was not operating properly; that the materials in the library of the institution were inadequate; or that the State failed to fulfil its positive obligations to ensure that the prisoners had access to certain news or opinions. It must be borne in mind that the applicant’s complaint did not concern his denial of access to a specific publication or certain information. In the present case, the Constitutional Court concluded that the impugned practice of the penitentiary institution aiming at maintaining the security in the institution and preventing any crimes met a pressing social need and was proportionate.

In the instant case, it is considered that the impugned practice, which is considered to be compatible with the requirements of a democratic society, was clearly not in breach of the applicant’s freedom of expression.

Consequently, the Constitutional Court declared the alleged violation of the freedom of expression inadmissible for being manifestly ill-founded.