The Turkish Constitutional Court has ruled that prison authorities’ censorship of a convict’s letter constituted as a rights violation.
Rahmi Çağan, jailed on terrorism charges, wrote about his dream in a letter to his spouse. Çağan wrote that in his dream, he was released from prison and found a job in a factory.
Nonetheless, the disciplinary committee of the prison administration found these statements “inconvenient” and censored the parts with regards to the dream.
Every letter sent in and out of the prisons in Turkey is controlled by a committee and can be censored partly or as a whole if it is seen as “inappropriate.” Çağan’s letter was also censored partially and sent out to his spouse in that form.
The prison committee justified its decision on the grounds that “different methods such as dreams are used for organizational communication purposes within the crime group of the applicant.”
Çağan applied to the Constitutional Court, the highest court for individual appeals, after a lengthy legal struggle in the lower courts.
In its opinion submitted to the Constitutional Court, the Justice Ministry argued that "the interference with the applicant's freedom of communication is necessary for a democratic society and in accordance with the principle of proportionality."
The Constitutional Court however ruled that the prison administration’s decision was against the freedom of communication, which is protected by the Article 22 of the Constitution. In order to eliminate the consequences of the violation, the top court ruled that a copy of the decision be sent to the court for a retrial and ordered the state to pay the applicant 3,000 Turkish Liras in compensation for non-pecuniary damages.