Back Judgment in the case of Catalan v. Romania

European Court of Human Rights

The case concerned the dismissal of a civil servant (Mr Catalan), who worked for the National Council for the Study of Securitate Archives (CNSAS) for having disclosed information to the press,  without his employer’s permission. (Non-violation of Article 10 ECHR - freedom of expression).      

Mr Catalan challenged his dismissal, but the domestic courts found that, by expressing himself publicly, he had breached his duty of discretion as a civil servant and that, in disciplining him, the CNSAS had acted within the scope of its relevant powers.

The Court found that Mr Catalan’s dismissal constituted interference with the exercise of his right to respect for his freedom of expression; that this interference  - prescribed by law -  had pursued two legitimate aims (to prevent the disclosure of confidential information and to protect the rights of others) and was necessary in a democratic society. On this last regard, the Court reiterated that the civil service required of its staff a duty of loyalty and discretion, and that certain manifestations of the right to freedom of expression that might be legitimate in other contexts were not legitimate in the workplace. It further noted that the present case raised a separate issue from those relating to whistleblowing by employees about unlawful conduct or acts witnessed at work, involving the disclosure of information or documents of which they had knowledge in the course of their duties. (for more information).

Strasbourg, France 9 January 2018
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