Euroopa Inimõiguste Kohus
09.10.2008

Facts

The applicant, Mr Moiseyev, who at the time was working for the Ministry of Foreign affairs of Russia was arrested and charged with high treason in the form of espionage. The applicant was not allowed any family visits during certain periods of his 3 years detention on remand. In the remaining periods family visits had been limited to two one-hour meetings a month during which the applicant was separated from his family by bars and a glass partition. 

Complaint

The applicant complained under Article 8 of the Convention about unlawful and disproportionate restrictions on family visits.

Court's ruling

General principles: 

The Court noted that every detention imposes logical restrictions on the private and family life. However, also detainees have certain rights to family life and any restrictions therefore have to be prescribed by law, necessary to achieve legitimate aim and must be necessary and proportional in the particular situation. 

In the present case: 

The Court found that the refusals of family visits were not ‘prescribed by law’ as the relevant legislation did not define the circumstances in which the visits could be refused. Thus it failed to satisfy the foreseeability requirement. 

In the Court’s view it was also a matter of concern that even when the visits were allowed, the law imposed limits to two visits per month. There did not appear to be any need for such stringent limitations, especially, in the applicant’s case as his wife was not a witness against him and his daughter was still a minor. Accordingly, the measure went beyond what was necessary in a democratic society ‘to prevent disorder and crime’. 

As regards the installation of the glass partition, it was not ‘prescribed by law’ and in any event the imposition of such a measure for more than three and a half years without any established security risk was disproportionate. 

Thus, the Court found a violation of Article 8 of the Convention.