The Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed that the list of three candidates for the Polish judge of the European Court of Human Rights was notified to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The candidates are: Elżbieta Karska, Aleksander Stępkowski and Agnieszka Szklanna. These are the same three people who did not receive the approval of the Council of Europe in April. The reason was the non-transparent procedure of their indication. The Council then asked Poland to put forward new candidacies.
“Originally set for December 3 this year, the deadline for submitting the list was extended by the Parliamentary Assembly of the CoE due to the fact that the proceedings before the Advisory Panel of Experts for the selection of candidates for the post of judge of the ECtHR did not end until December 3 this year.” – added in Tuesday’s communiqué of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
It’s a second time application of these three candidates by the Polish side. Supreme Court spokesman, founder of the ultra-conservative Ordo Iuris Aleksander Stępkowski, prof. UKSW Elżbieta Karska, privately wife of PiS MEP Karol Karski, and expert of the Council of Europe Agnieszka Szklanna have already been nominated in April, but the committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe recommended the rejection of the entire list and resumption of the procedure.
Reservations as to the procedure of nominating candidates
– The list was rejected due to alleged procedural flaws allegedly committed in its preparation. The candidates were not heard at all and therefore it cannot be said that they were judged. Well, unless we decide that the standard of the Council of Europe is to formulate a negative assessment without ensuring the possibility of listening to those assessed – then Stępkowski said.
The procedure for selecting candidates on the Polish side is handled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During the selection of the first list of candidates, reservations were made by, among others, the then Ombudsman, Adam Bodnar. As he argued, the candidates for judges were selected by a team composed only of persons designated by the executive authority, which held closed sessions. The Commissioner for Human Rights also pointed to the lack of a public hearing of the candidates.
The Council of Europe, rejecting the lists of Polish candidates in April, argued that the main reason was the non-transparent procedure for selecting them.
In order to select candidates, a special team was appointed under the leadership of Piotr Wawrzyk, the deputy head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He reported that in the second half of October. Hearings of candidates for judges of the ECHR were scheduled. He added that if the work proceeded similarly to the previous one, the Parliamentary Assembly of the CoE could deal with Polish candidates in the spring of 2022.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the list of candidates was notified pursuant to Article 22 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the order of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of January 13, 2012 on the appointment of the Team for the selection of candidates for the office of judge of the ECHR.
European Court of Human Rights
The ECtHR is an organ of the Council of Europe – it adjudicates on complaints about violations of rights and freedoms contained in the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and its additional protocols. The ECtHR consists of 47 judges – one from each state party to the Convention. Their term of office is nine years.
The requirements for holding the office of a judge of the ECHR are set out in Art. 21 of the Convention: judges should be people of the “highest moral level”, and must either be qualified to hold a high judicial office or be lawyers of recognized competence. Judges sit in the Tribunal on their own behalf, and while in office they may not participate in any activity incompatible with independence, impartiality and the requirements of holding office full-time.
Before voting by the Parliamentary Assembly of the CoE, the candidates are assessed by a specially appointed committee. This first assesses the “fairness and openness” of the process of their selection in the country, and only then goes on to assess their qualifications. If the committee considers that all the conditions it has set have been met, the final choice is made by the Parliamentary Assembly itself by secret ballot in plenary.
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