The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled Tuesday that the Turkish authorities’ refusal to grant detained human rights lawyer, Ramazan Demir, access to certain Internet sites was unjustified under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Demir is a human rights lawyer who recently represented Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş in front of the ECHR in 2020. In 2016, Demir was placed in pre-trial detention for five months for alleged association with a terrorist organization. He asked prison authorities for access to the websites of the ECHR, Constitutional Court, and Official Gazette to gather legal information for his clients’ cases and to prepare his own defense for proceedings against him. The prison authorities refused access and the Turkish courts dismissed his complaints.
The ECHR has since ruled that because Turkey’s laws allowed prisoners access to websites for training and rehabilitation programs and Demir’s work as a lawyer fell under this discretion, the restriction to the websites was unjustified under Article 10 of the Convention, which includes the right to freedom to receive information unless the restriction is “necessary in a democratic society.”
The court found that Turkey gave no “sufficient explanations” for why access did not fall under the Turkish legislation, and therefore Turkey failed to show that the measures were “relevant or sufficient” and were “necessary in a democratic society.”
The ECHR has fined Turkey €3,500 to be paid to Demir, where €1,500 is in respect of non-pecuniary damages and €2,000 in respect of costs and expenses.