The prohibition of access to a personal file for the person concerned violates his right to privacy
Yonchev v. Bulgaria 7.12.2017 (no. 12504/09)
A police officer is unsuitable for work for psychological reasons. Prohibition of access to his / her personal service file. Violation of the right to respect for private and family life.
The applicant, Ivan Yonchev, is a Bulgarian national who was born in 1954 and lives in Sofia. A former police officer, he complained about the authorities’ refusal to let him have access to a file assessing him as unfit to work.
Employed as a police officer since 1977, Mr Yonchev participated in several international missions. In 2001 he applied for a position in a new mission. However, following two psychological assessments, he was told that he was unfit for the job.
In 2003 he applied under the Protection of Personal Data Act to have access to his personnel file at the Ministry of the Interior. Mr Yonchev’s request was refused, first in administrative and then in judicial proceedings. In particular, the Minister of the Interior refused access in 2006 on the ground that his whole personnel file was classified; and that even if the file did contain documents which were not sensitive, owing to the presence of some classified documents, the whole file had to be protected. This decision was then ultimately upheld by the national courts in 2008.
In the meantime, in view of the negative outcome of the first psychological assessment Mr Yonchev had retired from service.
Relying in particular on Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life), Mr Yonchev complained that the refusal to let him have access to his personal data had not been properly justified. He notably alleged that, during the domestic proceedings, the Ministry of the Interior had never shown that the two psychological assessments had been classified.
THE DECISION OF THE COURT
Violation of Article 8
Just satisfaction: EUR 1,500 (non-pecuniary damage) and EUR 2,430 (costs and expenses)(echrcaselaw.com editing).