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Association “21 December 1989” and Others v. Romania, No. 33810/07, ECtHR (Third Section), 24 May 2011


Art. 2 ECHR and procedural obligations. Duty to investigate in the event of a substantial violation of such provision. The right to know the truth about the circumstances that led to massive human rights violations.

Normative references

Art. 2 ECHR 


1. Art. 2 ECHR (right to life) includes some procedural obligations, such as the duty, incumbent on the state, to initiate and conduct adequate, independent, effective and prompt investigations.

2. Procrastinating and hindering the investigations of the public authorities violates the procedural obligations arising from Art. 2 ECHR (Right to life).

3. The right of the victims, their families and heirs to know the truth about the circumstances relating to massive violations of human rights is as fundamental as the right to life. 

4. Pursuant to Art. 46 ECHR, the respondent State must address and put an end to situations similar to the present case, also in light of the importance for the Romanian society of knowing the truth about the events of December 1989. 
(The case concerns the brutal crackdown on the anti-government protests occurred in December 1998, which led to the overthrow of Nicolae Ceauşescu’s regime. Investigations on the perpetrators were delayed and hindered in various ways).


The Court declared a violation of Art. 8 ECHR, in respect of one of the applicants, who was subject to secret surveillance and whose documents, illegally obtained, have been kept for years by the authorities.