Strasbourg confirms that interception orders must have a time-limit


The European Court of Human Rights has bound Ukraine to pay two residents of Poltava one thousand EURO each for violation of their right to privacy of correspondence.

The two Poltava residents, Olga Volokh (born in 1933) and Mykhailo Volokh (b. 1961) lodged their claim with the Court in Strasbourg after exhausting all domestic avenues.  The case involved interception and seizure of their postal and telegraphic correspondence following the failure by Olga Volokh’s son (Mykhaylo Volokh’s brother) who was under investigation for tax evasion to appear for interrogation at the police station. As no time-limit was fixed in the court order, it was to remain valid for more than one year after the criminal proceedings against their relative had ended.

“The Court concluded that the interference with the right to respect for correspondence was not “in accordance with the law” since Ukrainian law did not indicate with sufficient clarity the scope and conditions of exercise of the authorities’ discretionary power in the area under consideration and did not provide sufficient safeguards against abuse of that surveillance system.”

The Court therefore found that there had been a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (right to respect for correspondence) and of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy).

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