Applicant name X.
Applicant type Natural person (prisoner)
Country Germany
Decision no. 3603/68
Date 04/02/1970
Institution Commission (Plenary)
Type Decision
Outcome Art. 8 Inadmissible
Reason Manifestly ill-founded; public safety
Type of privacy Family privacy
Keywords Conjugal visit; prisoner; european consensus
Facts of the case Courts have denied a prisoner the right to receive visits from his wife in order to maintain their conjugal life.
Analysis Interesting case for a number of reasons:

1. Although the Commission, in its early days, is sometimes hesitant to allow prisoners to invoke their rights under the Convention, stressing that a restriction of freedom is an intrinsic part of been sentenced to jail, it has no quals in acknowledging that the right to receive conjugal visits by prisoners falls under the scope ratione materiae of the right to privacy.
2. It stresses that the question of whether there is such a right and to what extent limitations are acceptable in democratic societies is an important issue of law. It embraces the doctrine according to which such a question must be judged in the light of a comparative survey of the relevant domestic legislation and practice of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention. This means in extremo that when the state against which the complaint is raised is the only country in Europe that imposes limitations or does not acknowledge a right, just would need stronger justification than when a majority of European countries would do so.
3. It does not include the findings of this survey, but notes with sympathy the reformative movement in several European countries as regards an improvement of the conditions of imprisonment and the possibilities of detained persons to continue their conjugal life to a limited extent. It usually uses this type of phrasing when it is still too early to speak of a European consensus on a certain point, such as the acceptance of a certain right or freedom, but hopes that European countries would move in that direction.
4. It stresses that because there is no European consensus, countries are still at liberty to lay down limitations in their national legal regime. It is interesting that it refers to the ground of ‘public safety’ and not to the ‘prevention of disorder and crime’, as it does normally when dealing with cases that revolve around restrictions imposed on prisoners’ liberty.

Documents Decision