X. v. Ireland

Application No. 3717/68
Download Judgment: English

Applicant, a stateless person with a Swedish alien’s passport, was arrested in Scotland on suspicion of committing murder in Ireland. Applicant was taken to Ireland, convicted of murder, and sentenced to penal servitude for life.

Applicant claimed that his trial was “rigged and fixed” as a result of a conspiracy between the judge, his own counsel, and the prosecution in order to obtain a conviction. Applicant filed for a leave to appeal, but was refused by the Court of Criminal Appeal in July 1967. He then submitted an application for a certificate pursuant to Section 9(29) of the Courts of Justice Act, 1924, which enabled the applicant to take an appeal to the Supreme Court on the grounds that the decision of the Court of Criminal Appeal involved a point of law of exceptional public importance and that it was desirable in the public interest that an appeal should be taken to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court dismissed his appeal on the grounds that he was being detained in accordance with the law. In May 1968, the applicant applied to the Court of Criminal Appeal to re-hear his application for leave to appeal on the ground of new evidence, but it held that it had no jurisdiction to re-open these proceedings.

Applicant handed an appeal address to the President of the Republic to prison authorities, though the Prison Secretary refused to dispatch it.

Applicant maintained that he wrote 17 times to the High Court with no response. In particular,  most of these submissions concerned Applicant’s attempts to obtain a finding that he was being unlawfully detained.

Applicant complained that, in prison, he did not receive food in accordance with the requirements of his Buddhist faith and that he was subjected to disciplinary punishment when he protested. The Applicant went on a hunger strike for three days to protest against the prison food as well as the prison doctor’s behavior towards him. The prison doctor found him fit to undergo punishment. The Applicant, in return, sent certain letters of complaint to the Irish Medical Association. He complained that these letters were suppressed. He also complained that the Minister of Justice upheld this decision. According to the Applicant, he suffered from a skin disease called psoriasis. But his requests for treatment had been unsuccessful.

With respect to the claims regarding impermissible restrictions on the Applicant's correspondence, the Commission found that the prison authorities’ suppression of the letter that the Applicant had written to the President of the Republic did not violate paragraph (1) of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (guaranteeing respect for private life) because such Article “permits interference with a person’s correspondence by a public authority where such interference is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a domestic society, inter alia, for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.” Here, the Commission noted the government’s contention that the contents of this letter contained serious allegations against the judge, attorneys and witnesses involved in the applicant’s trial which would have violated such persons rights not to be subjected to attacks upon their reputation and agreed that the prison authorities’ decision not to forward the letter was proper for the protection of the rights of others.

The Commission also noted that the applicant had made a large number of submissions and presented his case in a completely adequate manner and that his correspondence with the Commission had been unimpeded.  Ultimately, the Commission held that the applicant had not been hindered in the effective exercise of the right to lodge an application as guaranteed by Article 25 of the Convention, and declared the petition inadmissible.

“[I]n particular, the Commission has frequently held that the normal control, including in certain circumstances a restriction of correspondence is an inherent feature of imprisonment and does not constitute a violation of paragraph (1) of Article 8 (Art. 8-1)” Page 7.

“Whereas the Commission observes in this respect that the applicant has, in fact, made a large number of substantial submissions and presented his case in completely adequate manner; whereas there is no evidence that letters sent by the applicant to the Commission have been improperly delayed by the Irish authorities; whereas, therefore, it is clear that the applicant has not been hindered in the effective exercise of the right to lodge an application as guaranteed in Article 25, paragraph (1) (Art. 25-1), in fine, of the Convention” Page 7.