Austrianu v Romania: ECHR 12 Feb 2013

ECHR Article 9-1
Manifest religion or belief
Confiscation of cassette player used by prisoner to listen to religious tapes: inadmissible
Facts – The applicant, who was of Baptist confession, was serving a lengthy prison sentence. After reacting to the confiscation of a small radio-cassette player he had received after obtaining good results on a ‘Christian moral education’ programme, he was informed by the prison authorities that prisoners were only entitled to have battery-operated radios and television sets, but that he could listen to his audio cassettes on the cassette player belonging to the prison’s cultural-educational department if he wished. In his application to the European Court, the applicant complained inter alia that the confiscation of his religious tapes and cassette player had infringed his freedom of religion.
Law – Article 9: This provision did not protect every act motivated or inspired by a religion or belief. Taking into account the State’s margin of appreciation, confiscation of the cassette (assuming it constituted interference with the applicant’s rights under Article 9) had not completely prevented the applicant from manifesting his religion. According to the Government the prison authorities had offered the applicant the use of a cassette player in the prison’s cultural-educational department to listen to his religious cassettes and, although the applicant had contested the existence of such a facility, he did not appear to have raised any complaint in that respect with the prison authorities. Moreover, he had been allowed to attend religious seminars, and it had never been contested that he could read religious books in his cell. Taking these considerations into account, the Court considered that restricting the list of things prisoners could have in their cells by excluding items (such as cassette players) which were not essential for manifesting religion was a proportionate response to the necessity to protect the rights and freedoms of others and to maintain security in prison.
Conclusion: inadmissible (manifestly ill-founded).
(See also Kovalkovs v. Latvia (dec.), no. 35021/05, 31 January 2012)
The Court also found a complaint of discrimination on religious grounds (Article 14 in conjunction with Article 9) manifestly ill-founded. It upheld the applicant’s complaints of violations of both the substantive and procedural limbs of Article 3 in respect of an incident in which he was hit with a truncheon on 9 December 1998, but found no violation of that provision in respect of an alleged lack of adequate medical treatment.


16117/02 – Legal Summary, [2013] ECHR 396




European Convention on Human Rights 9-1

Human Rights, Prisons

Updated: 05 December 2022; Ref: scu.491920