A visit from a journalist can be covered by the right to freedom of expression (symbol image)
Photo: DANIEL MAURER/ AP
A prisoner from North Rhine-Westphalia successfully sued in Karlsruhe because he was forbidden from visiting a journalist for an interview.
The constitutional complaint of the man was "obviously justified," said the Federal Constitutional Court on Thursday.
When examining his request, the importance of the fundamental right to freedom of expression was misjudged.
(Az. 2 BvR 784/21)
The plaintiff is being held in Werl Prison for severe extortion.
The interview was requested by a radio journalist from Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), who was working on a report on the subject of “alternatives to criminal detention”.
The JVA's psychological service had advised against allowing the interview - it was to be feared that this could reinforce the inmate's negative attitude towards treatment.
Freedom of expression not »adequately taken into account«
The prison law of North Rhine-Westphalia states that a visit can be prohibited if "there is a fear that contact with persons who are not relatives of the prisoners (...) will have a harmful effect on the prisoners or hinder their integration «.
The district court Arnsberg and the higher regional court Hamm had confirmed the decision of the JVA.
Too hasty, say the constitutional judges.
The Basic Law gives everyone the right to freely express and disseminate their opinion in word, writing and image.
It is not clear from the decision of the regional court that the interference with the plaintiff's freedom of expression was "sufficiently taken into account and weighted".
It cannot generally be assumed that an interview with a prisoner regularly hinders his or her integration.
Such a fear requires “concrete, objectively comprehensible evidence”.
According to the decision, the regional court should at least have examined the JVA decision more carefully.
That must now be made up for.