Strasbourg prohibits a former Securitate collaborator from public administration employment in Romania

The case of Naidin v Romania (38162/07, 21 October 2014) originates from one of the dark chapters of the recent history of Central and Eastern European countries. The applicant, Mr Naidin, has served for three terms in the Romanian Parliament until 2014. After his third term of service expired, he wished to return to this previous employment in the Romanian public administration. However, he was prevented from taking up this public service employment due to the Romanian Statute No. 188/1999. Its Article 50 prohibits access to the public administration to the persons that worked as collaborators of former Romanian secret police, Securitate, during the Communist regime. The applicant alleged, in particular, a violation of Articles 8 and 14 of the Convention concerning his right to protect his privacy for employment in the public administration. The third Section of the European Court of Human Rights disagreed and found no violation of the Convention. More specifically, it first noted that :

 »les États ont un intérêt légitime à réguler les conditions d’emploi dans le service public. Un État démocratique est en droit d’exiger de ses fonctionnaires qu’ils soient loyaux envers les principes constitutionnels sur lesquels il s’appuie (Vogt c. Allemagne, 26 septembre 1995, § 59, série A no 323 et Sidabras et Džiautas, précité, § 52).« (para. 49)

Finally, it noted that adopted measures were not disproportionate and were necessary in democratic society :

“les perspectives professionnelles du requérant n’ont été supprimées que dans la fonction publique. Les fonctionnaires publics, a fortiori ceux qui occupent des postes à haute responsabilité, de la nature de ceux que le requérant souhaitait réintégrer, exercent une parcelle de la souveraineté de l’État. L’interdiction frappant le requérant n’est donc pas disproportionnée par rapport à l’objectif légitime de l’État de s’assurer de la loyauté des personnes chargées de la sauvegarde de l’intérêt général” (para. 54).

This judgment should be welcomed as it affirms that states have a wide margin of appreciation in regulating the access to positions in their public administration. In this way, it is proportionate for states to prohibit access to former collaborators of secret services of the totalitarian regimes. However, this is not generally accepted standard and should not be taken for granted. Several Eastern European countries face difficulties with dealing with the totalitarian remainants of the past. Most of them have not implemented the policies of lustration as the communist oligarchs have slowly transformed themselves into post-communist elites. For these reasons old post-totalitarian elites have worked against the adoption of policies of lustration aimed at old nomenclature, which has often slowed down transition from totalitarian into democratic societies or even caused constitutional back-sliding of young liberal democracies in Central and Eastern Europe.

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