Radu v. The Republic of Moldova

Application No. 50073/07
Download Judgment: English

The plaintiff was a lecturer at the Police Academy in Moldova. In 2003, she became pregnant through artificial insemination. Due to her increased risk of miscarriage, a doctor at the No. 7 Center for Family Doctors (“the CFD”), a state-owned hospital, ordered her hospitalization. This extended hospitalization caused her to be absent from work. The Police Academy received a sick note to certify this absence. The note identified her pregnancy and risk of miscarriage as the justifications for her absence. After receiving this note, the President of the Police Academy requested additional information about her medical leave from the CFD. The CFD then provided more detailed information about her pregnancy, artificial insemination process, and medical procedures. The CFD also included a copy of her medical file.

Following this disclosure, the plaintiff suffered a miscarriage that she attributed to stress due the disclosure. According to the plaintiff, the information disclosed and resulting rumors spread through the workplace, including to her students. Her husband also resigned from his position at the Police Academy in response to the disclosure.

The plaintiff brought a case against the CFD and Police Academy to the Centru District Court, claiming that the Government violated her right to privacy of medical information as guaranteed by the Council of Europe’s Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Dignity of the Human Being with regard to the Application of Biology and Medicine (“Convention”). The Court dismissed the case, and that decision was ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court of Justice.

The European Court of Human Rights held that the Government violated the plaintiff’s rights guaranteed by Article 8 of the Convention. Disclosures about her pregnancy and related medical information interfered with her right to private life. The Court rejected the Government’s claim that Moldovan law provided a sufficient legal basis for the interference with the plaintiff’s right to privacy, that there was a legitimate aim for the interference, and that it had been necessary in a democratic society. The Court found that Moldovan law only authorized disclosure to an employer with the person’s consent and that none of the exceptions to the rule of nondisclosure were applicable.

“It is undisputed between the parties, and the Court agrees, that the disclosure by the CFD to the applicant’s employer of such sensitive details about the applicant’s pregnancy, her state of health and the treatment received constituted an interference with her right to private life.”  Para. 27.

“The expression ‘in accordance with the law’ not only necessitates compliance with domestic law, but also relates to the quality of that law . . . that domestic law must indicate with reasonable clarity the scope and manner of exercise of the relevant discretion conferred on the public authorities so as to ensure to individuals the minimum degree of protection to which citizens are entitled under the rule of law in a democratic society.” Para. 28.