Legal aid & Defence

You always have the right to self-paid legal aid. Sometimes legal aid will be provided and paid for by the State. You also have the right to meetings and confidential communication with your attorney at law.
Case summary

Erdem v. Germany

European Court of Human Rights
5 July 2001

The applicant, a Turkish national, was arrested on the German border on a suspicion of being a member of a terrorist organisation. During his detention, which lasted for approximately 5 years, the applicant’s correspondence with his lawyer was monitored.

The applicant submitted that the fact that his correspondence with his lawyer was monitored violated his right to private life guaranteed in Article 8 of the Convention. 

Court’s ruling
The Court stated that there had been an interference with the applicant\'s right to respect for his correspondence – in this instance with his lawyer – guaranteed by Article 8(1). However, it ruled that the interference was justified as it complied with the three-prong test. 

  • Firstly, it was prescribed by law – the Code of Criminal Procedure of Germany. 

  • Secondly, the monitoring of the applicant\'s correspondence pursued the legitimate aims - protecting ‘national security’ and preventing ‘disorder or crime’. 

  • Thirdly, the limitation of the rights of the applicant was necessary in democratic society and proportionate. As terrorism in all its forms imposes threats on state security, thus the margin of appreciation afforded to the State in cases concerning terrorism is wider. The limitation was not disproportionate as safeguards were attached to the monitoring of correspondence in the instant case - power to monitor correspondence was vested in an independent judge who was not connected with the investigation and was under a duty to keep the information obtained confidential. 

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education