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European Court of Human Rights

Agenda Item: Bucur and Toma v. Romania

Under-Secretaries-General: Işıl Beyza Bala, İdil Erdoğan

In the Bucur and Toma v. Romania case, the European Court of Human Rights will try to reach

a balance between freedom of expression and national security claims. 

In 1996, Constantin Bucur (the First Applicant) realised a range of irregularities while he was working for the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI): the required surveillance warrants had not been issued by the Public Prosecutor, meaning that the SRI was wiretapping people without any legal base. People who were intercepted included numerous politicians, journalists, and businesspeople. Mr. Bucur tried to talk to his supervisors about the irregularities. However, his efforts went for nothing. Then, he decided to make these illegal wiretappings public upon the advice of a member of the parliamentary committee responsible for overseeing the SRI.

On 13 May 1996, Mr. Bucur held a press conference. In the presence of several members of the political parties and members of parliament, he disclosed the irregularities SRI’s activities along with a number of audio tapes. The press conference aroused intense media attention nationally and internationally. Political and civil society organisations made numerous statements on the issue.

On 20 October 1998, the Military Court sentenced Mr. Bucur to a suspended two years in prison for theft and the transmission of state secrets. Constantin Bucur, in his application to the European Court of Human Rights, claimed that Romania violated his right to freedom of expression (Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights) and his right to a fair trial (Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights). 

Therefore, what are the “state secrets”? Is there a way to breach freedom of expression under national security? Which one is worth protecting: the right to information or national security?As judges and advocates of EUROsimA 2024’s rendition of the European Court of Human Rights, you will be able to come up with answers to those contentious legal questions!

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