THE FACTS

Whereas the facts may be summarised as follows:

On 13th December, 1968 the Commission examined the above application
and rejected for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies certain complaints
made by the applicant with regard to his treatment in prison and the
alleged interference with his correspondence by the prison authorities.

In his application the applicant also complained that the prison
authorities at Ludwigshafen opened letters addressed to him by the
Commission's Secretary before delivering such letters to him. The
Commission considered this complaint under Article 25, paragraph (1)
in fine of the Convention and found that it did not have full
information in this respect. It therefore decided to invite the
Government of the Federal Republic of Germany to submit any relevant
observations and, in the meanwhile, to adjourn its examination of the
question whether any further action was required in this regard.

On 21st January, 1969, the Commission's Secretary informed a
representative of the German Ministry of Justice of the Federal
Republic, of this decision and requested him to submit any relevant
observations.

On 6th March, 1969, the same representative telephoned the Secretary
and submitted the following comments:

Under Article 33, paragraph (1) of the Ordinance relating to the
Execution of Detention on Remand (Untersuchungshaftvollzugsordnung) all
letters addressed to a person who is detained on remand must be put
before the competent judge or public prosecutor who, according to
paragraph (2) of that provision, is authorised to open and examine such
letters. Unless objection is made as to the contents of the letter
concerned, it will be placed in a special envelope and transmitted to
the prison authorities which, in turn, pass it on to the addressee. No
distinction is made with regard to letters from the Commission or from
other authorities.

On the other hand, under Article 28, paragraph (5) of the said
Ordinance the right of a detained person to lodge complaints with
parliamentary representatives in the Federal Republic or with the
European Commission of Human Rights is unrestricted and, according to
Article 34, paragraph (2), submissions to the Commission may not be
held back. The representative of the Ministry of Justice pointed out
that it followed from these provisions that similarly communications
from the Commission may not be withheld by the German authorities.

He finally referred to the relevant provisions of the European
Agreement relating to persons participating in proceedings of the
European Commission and Court of Human Rights (1), and, in particular,
to Article 3 thereof which provides:

"1. The Contracting Parties shall respect the right of the persons
referred to in paragraph 1 of Article 1 of this Agreement to correspond
freely with the Commission and the Court.

2. As regards persons under detention, the exercise of this right shall
in particular imply that:
(a)  if their correspondence is examined by the competent authorities,
its despatch and delivery shall nevertheless take place without undue
delay and without alteration;
(b)  such persons shall not be subject to disciplinary measures in any
form on account of any communications sent through the proper channels
to the Commission or the Court;
(c)  such persons shall have the right to correspond, and consult out
of hearing of other persons with a lawyer qualified to appear before
the courts of the country where they are detained in regard to an
application to the Commission, or any proceedings resulting therefrom.
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(1)  The Agreement was opened for signature on 6th May, 1969.
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3. In application of the preceding paragraphs, there shall be no
interference by a public authority except such as is in accordance with
the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of
national security, for the detention or prosecution of a criminal
offence or for the protection of health."

THE LAW

Whereas, the only question which remains to be decided is whether or
not the practice of the German prison authorities, as applied to the
applicant in this case, of opening and reading letters addressed to an
applicant by the Commission's Secretary before delivering such letters
to him is consistent with Article 25, paragraph (1) (Art. 25-1), in
fine, of the Convention; whereas this provision states that those of
the High Contracting Parties who have made a declaration recognising
the competence of the Commission to receive individual petitions
undertake not to hinder in any way the effective exercise of this
right;

Whereas the applicant maintained that it was inconsistent with his
right of individual petition that the prison authorities should open
and read the letters which are addressed to him by the Commission's
Secretary and thus be completely informed about the state of the
proceedings before the Commission;

Whereas the respondent Government argued that such practice was not
only consistent with the relevant provisions of German law but was also
in accordance with the European Agreement relating to persons
participating in proceedings of the European Commission and Court of
Human Rights;

Whereas the Commission finds that the practice complained of is, in
fact, envisaged by Article 3, paragraph Secretary (a), of the European
Agreement relating to persons participating in proceedings before the
European Commission and Court of Human Rights and is implicitly
approved by that provision; whereas, moreover, the Commission observes
that there is nothing in the applicant's allegations to suggest that
he has himself been restricted in his correspondence or otherwise in
any way prevented from submitting his case to the Commission;

Whereas, in fact, he has made substantial submissions and presented his
case in a completely adequate manner;

Whereas, in these circumstances, the Commission considers 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;

Now therefore the Commission

DECIDES TO TAKE NO FURTHER ACTION IN RESPECT OF THE ALLEGED
INTERFERENCE WITH THE EFFECTIVE EXERCISE OF THE RIGHT OF INDIVIDUAL
PETITION.