Unresolved situation with Ukraine’s ECHR Judge is harming the country’s reputation

On Monday the head of Ukraine’s delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Ivan Polesku told journalists that PACE could take away Ukraine’s right to vote if the situation over candidates for post of European Court of Human Rights Judge from Ukraine is not resolved. There are effectively two candidate lists with one difference.

Roman Romanov, Director of the “Rule of Law” Programme for the International Renaissance Foundation believes that PACE does not want to create a precedent with other countries also recalling their candidate lists. “It is not so much the powers of the Ukrainian delegation that has become hostage to this situation, but Ukraine’s international reputation. It has demonstrated inability to even use its right to nominate candidates to the European Court”, he told a Deutsche Welle reporter.
The original candidate list included National Deputy Serhiy Holovaty. Mr Holovaty, who is well-known in Strasbourg, changed political factions during the tumultuous events following President Yushchenko’s first Decree dissolving parliament in April 2007.
His political affiliations were on no concern to the human rights groups which in August and September that year began calling on PACE to not elect a politician as Ukraine’s Judge to the European Court. Especially given the degree of politicization of the Ukrainian judiciary, and constant pressure on it from politicians, it seemed highly desirable – and still does – to avoid any suggestion of political engagement from the Judge in Strasbourg.
Whether our arguments would have been heeded we will never know, since the situation changed radically on 14 September 2007 when President Yushchenko issued a Decree creating a new selection committee, claiming irregularities in the previous one. This was probably viewed with concern in Strasbourg, especially given the antagonism between the President and Serhiy Holovaty following the events of April 2007.
The new list of three candidates, which PACE refused to accept, differed in one respect: Mr Holovaty was replaced by Stanislav Shevchuk.
In the second half of 2008 the Court asked Ukraine to put forward a candidate for ad hoc Judge from Ukraine according to established procedure, in order to ensure review of cases against Ukraine until the election of a permanent judge. Stanislav Shevchuk was proposed, and he commenced his duties in January 2009. The problem is that ad hoc is not the same as permanent, and it would be a breach of the norms established by the Convention, as well as PACE regulations, if he took over the post on a permanent basis.
Roman Romanov in the same interview said that he believes the Council of Europe should either choose one of the lists, or agree to the compromise offered by the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and recognize the country’s right to submit and recall candidates for international structures. He is making no predictions as to how long this will all last.
Please see “So what does the European Court of Human Rights mean for Ukraine?” and the appeal to PACE here

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