Human Rights Guide


Rotaru v. Romania

European Court of Human Rights
4 May 2000


During an administrative trial in which the applicant Mr.Rotaru was involved as an applicant, a letter from the Romanian Intelligence Service (RIS) was submitted to the court. The letter contained, among other things, information about Mr.Rotaru’s political activities and stated that he had been a member of an extreme right-wing "legionnaire" movement. Mr. Rotaru brought proceedings against the RIS claiming the amendment or destruction of the letter containing, in his opinion, untrue and defamatory information. The claim was dismissed by the courts as judicial authorities had no jurisdiction to destroy or amend the information in the letter written by the RIS.


The applicant complained of an infringement of his right to privacy, as the RIS held a file containing information on his private life and that it was impossible to refute the untrue information.

Court's ruling

The Court ruled that the possession and use by the RIS of information on the applicant's private life had not been "in accordance with the law", as the law was formulated in too general terms and provided no safeguards for individuals in order to protect their private lives. Therefore the right to private life of Mr.Rotaru had been violated.

The Court emphasized that the RIS's letter contained various pieces of information about the applicant's life, in particular his studies, his political activities and his criminal records. In the Court's opinion, such information, when systematically collected and stored in a file held by agents of the state, is an interference with an individual’s private life.

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