Human Rights Guide


Kornakovs v. Latvia

(Prisons – Privacy of correspondence)
European Court of Human Rights
15 June 2006


The applicant, Mr. Kornakovs, was serving a prison service. The prison authorities opened a letter from the Court addressed to him. 


Mr. Kornakovs complained that the opening of the letter violated his right to respect for his correspondence.

Court's ruling

The Court found that the law allowing the prison authorities to monitor prisoners’ correspondence allowed this monitoring in general, without determining situations or conditions such as length when such monitoring should be used. The Court noted that monitoring of correspondence can be allowed only in exceptional situations and these situations have to be determined by law. Taking into account that the Latvian law did not provide for the limits or conditions of the authorities’ right to monitor prisoner’s correspondence, nor effective remedy for challenging the necessity of such monitoring, the Court concluded that it lacked clarity to constitute “law” within the meaning of the Convention. Since the interference of Mr. Kornakovs right for respect for his correspondence had not been prescribed by law, the Court found a violation of these rights.

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