27 July 2016
The Hungarian Helsinki Committee, together with other 14 Hungarian human rights NGOs have urged the respective committee to recommend that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe rejects the candidates nominated by the Hungarian Government to be the next Hungarian judge at the European Court of Human Rights.
Hungarian Judge András Sajó’s term at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ends in January 2017 and Hungary must propose three potential replacement candidates by 26 August 2016. The Parliamentary Assembly will choose the next Hungarian judge from these candidates or may reject all the candidates if they are unfit for the post. The Committee on the Election of Judges to the European Court of Human Rights is there to advise the Parliamentary Assembly on this decision after reviewing the qualifications of each candidate.
According to the underlying rules, the national process of selecting the candidates must reflect the principles of democratic procedure, transparency and non-discrimination. However, Government responses to FOI requests submitted earlier by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee earlier this year showed that the way how the Hungarian Government selected its candidates fell short of Council of Europe rules. According to the Ministry of Justice, consultations were held before the candidates were selected but the Ministry will not say who took part in these consultations. A month ago, leading human rights organisations, including the HHC, urged the Minister of Justice to start a fresh, transparent selection process that follows the rules of the Council of Europe. To date, the Government has not taken any action. Since the ECtHR is the watchdog for individuals in Europe, making sure their rights are not violated, it is of utmost importance that this selection process is democratic, transparent and non-discriminatory, in line with the standards set by the Council of Europe.
Given that the credibility and authority of the ECtHR is at stake, the HHC and 14 other leading human rights organisations have now requested the Committee on the Election of Judges to the European Court of Human Rights to urge the Parliamentary Assembly to reject the proposed Hungarian candidates and to require the Government to conduct a transparent and fair selection process that ensures confidence in the judges of the ECtHR and protects the Court’s integrity.
The joint letter of the NGOs is available here.