K.H. and Others v. Slovakia

The eight applicants in this case were all women of Roma ethnicity. They each suspected they had been sterilized during caesarian section deliveries at two different hospitals. Both hospitals denied the applicants’ requests to obtain copies of their medical records, and the applicants brought actions in different District Courts. The courts ordered the hospitals to allow access to the records and handwritten notes to be taken, but dismissed the request to make photocopies of the records. The Regional Courts both upheld the decision on appeal. The Constitutional Court also upheld the decision of the lower court. Subsequently, the applicants’ legal representatives were permitted to make copies of the applicants’ records due to the passage of the Health Care Act of 2004. Only one applicant did not receive her records and was informed they were lost, but she received a summary of her surgical procedure confirming she had been sterilized. The applicants argued that the hospital’s refusal to allow copies of their medical records violated their Article 8 right to respect for their private and family life. The applicants argued that the State’s prohibition on photocopying medical records prevented them from gathering evidence required for future litigation in violation of their Article 6 right to access a court. The State argued that the Health Care Act of 1994 did not allow legal representatives of applicants to photocopy records, and this prevented potential abuse of records. The European Court of Human Rights found that access to health and reproductive status information was relevant to private and family life under Article 8, and that the burden lay with the refusing party to give compelling reasons for refusal. The Court found the State’s argument was not sufficiently compelling, and that the State had violated the applicants’ rights under Article 8. The Court also found a violation Article 6’s provision of a right to access a court, and awarded the applicants damages.



Avon Center work product