Judgment 7668/15

Applicant type Legal person
Number of applicants 1
Application no. 7668/15
Date 02/03/2023
Judges Krzysztof Wojtyczek, President,
 Lətif Hüseynov,
 Ivana Jelić
Institution Court
Type Judgment
Outcome Art. 8 Violation
Reason Unlawfull
Type of privacy Locational privacy
Keywords Search and seizure
Facts of the case The applicant organisation is the representative office in Azerbaijan of the International Research and Exchanges Board, an international humanitarian organisation. The application concerns the search of its office and the seizure of documents and electronic devices by the national authorities, as well as the order to freeze its bank accounts in the framework of criminal proceedings initiated against several local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and representative offices of international organisations. The Prosecutor General’s Office opened criminal case in connection with alleged irregularities in the financial activities of a number of NGOs.
AnalysisThe Court notes that neither the applicant organisation itself nor its managers or employees were suspects in criminal. When authorising the search of the applicant organisation’s office and the seizure of all legal and financial documents, including those on electronic devices the domestic court merely relied on the need to ensure a complete, comprehensive and objective investigation in criminal. The Court considers that such general reasoning does not demonstrate that the national authorities examined the question whether the interference with the applicant organisation’s rights answered a pressing social need and was proportionate to the legitimate aims pursued. Moreover, the terms of the search warrant were too broad and did not sufficiently specify the reason for the search or which items or documents relevant to the investigation were expected to be found and seized at the applicant organisation’s office. The breadth and vagueness of the search warrant were reflected in the way in which it was executed, given that the investigating authorities seized the applicant organisation’s electronic devices without using any sifting procedure. The Court notes in particular that the appellate court did not give any indication as to the relevance to the investigation of those items seized from the applicant organisation and limited itself to the examination of the formal lawfulness of the search.
Other Article violation? Violation P1-1, no violation 6 and 18 ECHR.
Damage awarded (a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant organisation, within three months, the following amount, to be converted into the currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement,
EUR 5,900 (five thousand nine hundred euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of non-pecuniary damage;
Documents Judgment