You should be able to communicate from prison with courts, state institutions and international institutions to learn about your rights, complain about any violations of these or about other matters. This correspondence must not be monitored or censored and must be despatched free of charge.

Communication free of charge

It is prohibited to restrict your right of correspondence or use of telephone for communication with state agencies, local governments or their officials or with your criminal defence counsel or a representative who is an advocate. Therefore if you do not have the means to pay for the communication yourself these have to be provided free of charge

Letters addressed to the Chancellor of Justice, prisons, the Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia, prosecutor, investigator or court are sent at the expense of the prison. It should be brought out that you are entitled to maximum one envelope per working day, in regard with letters sent at the expense of the prison.

Restrictions and monitoring

Although Estonian law lists only these organizations, the same limitations on restrictions and monitoring should apply to all State institutions and other international bodies. 

example Although not listed under the law, your correspondence with the European Court of Human Rights should not be delayed or monitored. 

However, in exceptional circumstances human rights permit the monitoring of your correspondence with other State or international organizations for security reasons, and only if seriously justified. The State must choose the least restrictive method of monitoring, depending on the type of security concerns. 

example If there are good grounds to believe that a letter from a state institution contains illegal objects, the letter may be opened and checked for such objects, but should not be read. 

If privileged correspondence is to be monitored, there should be procedures established for ensuring that this correspondence is not monitored or censored beyond  the degree necessary. 

example Such letters should be opened in your presence or the presence of an independent party, like as investigative judge or the prosecutor. The opening of the letter should also be recorded.

What human rights violation may there be?

Privacy and freedom of correspondence

If your correspondence with state institutions or international organizations has been unlawfully monitored or restricted, this will result in a violation of your right to privacy and freedom of correspondence.

Right to a fair trial and an effective remedy

In certain circumstances, if your letter has been censored or delayed and you have consequently been unable to complain to the court or other institution about a violation of your rights, your right to a fair trial or to an effective remedy may have been violated.

How to complain

If you believe that your correspondence has been unlawfully monitored or restricted, you should complain about it to the Latvian Prison Administration and subsequently, the Administrative Court. Read more about how to complain.

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education