The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on Tuesday fined Turkey over the local prison administration’s refusal to grant a request for access to certain Internet sites lodged by lawyer Ramazan Demir in the course of his pre-trial detention in İstanbul’s Silivri Prison, where most political prisoners are held, in 2016.
The rights court also ordered Turkey to pay 1,500 euros in compensation to Demir.
Demir, a human rights lawyer, represents Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş, former co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, before the ECtHR. Accused of membership in a terrorist organization and disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization, Demir was put in pre-trial detention on April 6, 2016 and released on September 7 of the same year.
On April 12, 2016 Demir asked the prison administration to allow him to access the Internet sites of the ECtHR, Turkey’s Constitutional Court and the Official Gazette so he could obtain legal information needed to follow his clients’ cases before these two courts and to prepare his own defense in the criminal proceedings against him.
Citing Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, Demir complained that his right to receive information had been violated by Turkish prison authorities and courts.
The ECtHR ruled that the restriction of Demir’s access to the Internet sites of the courts and the Official Gazette had constituted a rights violation, saying, “The Court observed that the national courts had not carried out any detailed analysis of the security risks which would have arisen from Mr Demir’s access to these three Internet sites.”
The court also noted that Turkish legislation provided that prisoners could be granted access to the Internet in the context of training and rehabilitation programs.