Europe

Prisoner should have Lithuania internet access - Europe court

Lukiskiu prison in Vilnius (file pic) Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The ECHR ruled that Lithuania was wrong to stop the prisoner accessing government-run websites

A Lithuanian man in jail was unjustly denied access to the internet by authorities, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found.

The court said he had a right to freedom of expression, enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.

Lithuanian authorities had barred Henrikas Jankovskis from going online to apply for a law course, citing security concerns.

But the court ruled they had not provided sufficient reasons for a ban.

It pointed out that the websites Jankovskis had wanted to visit were all government-run.

The right of access to the internet has gone before the ECHR before.

In January 2016, it said that governments were not allowed to stop a person receiving information but that did not mean there was a general obligation to provide prisoners with access to the internet or specific websites.

European governments widely limit prisoners' access to specific websites on security grounds.

In the latest case, the court agreed that the Lithuanian prisoner should be allowed on to websites that featured learning and study programmes because they were relevant to his aim to further his education.

It said that Lithuania had violated Article 10 of the human rights convention, and that interfering in his right to receive that specific information "cannot be regarded as having been necessary in a democratic society".

What does Article 10 say?

"Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.

The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary."

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