Written answers

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

European Court of Human Rights Nominations

Photo of Andrew DoyleAndrew Doyle (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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78. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade further to Parliamentary Question No. 61 of 18 June 2013, if he will outline the lists of three candidates that Ireland has put forward on each occasion it is asked for possible selection as a Judge of the European Court of Human Rights; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31274/13]

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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As explained in my reply to the Deputy's PQ No. 61 of 18 June, a judge is elected to serve on the Court in respect of each High Contracting Party (state party) to the ECHR, although judges sit on the Court in their individual capacity. The judges are elected by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) from a list of three candidates nominated by a state party. In the time available, it is not possible to provide the lists of candidates put forward by Ireland for election to the European Court of Human Rights on each occasion since the Court was established in 1959. However, I set out below the lists of three candidates nominated for election to the Court since it was established on a full-time basis on 1 November 1998, pursuant to Protocol 11 to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Ireland has submitted lists of candidates in respect of three elections to the full-time Court - in 1997, 2004 and 2007. Details of the lists of candidates put forward are as follows:

1997 (in advance of the setting up of the full time Court)

Mr. John Hedigan S.C. (elected in January 1998)

Mr. Gerard Hogan S.C.

Mr. Denis Vaughan Buckley S.C.

2004 (in advance of the expiry of Judge Hedigan's first term of office)

Judge John Hedigan (re-elected in April 2004)

Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin

Mr. Roger Sweetman S.C.

(on the resignation of Judge Hedigan)

Mr. David Keane B.L.

Ms Ann Power S.C. (elected in January 2008)

Mr. Roger Sweetman S.C.

The ECHR sets out certain criteria required of judges of the European Court of Human Rights, including the requirement to be of high moral character and to possess the qualifications required for appointment to high judicial office or to be jurisconsults of recognised competence. In addition to this, PACE has adopted a number of texts on the standards to be adhered to by states in preparing the list of three candidates. I would refer the Deputy to an information document (reference AS/Jur/Inf (2013)02 10 January 2013) prepared by the Council of Europe Secretariat forthe Parliamentary Assembly Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the PACE on the procedure for electing judges to the European Court of Human Rights which lists the relevant texts and includes information on its own procedures. This document is available on the Council of Europe website at: .

In preparing lists of candidates, states are expected, amongst other things: to issue public and open calls for candidatures; to transmit the names of candidates in alphabetical order rather than in order of preference; to ensure that candidates possess an active knowledge of one and a passive knowledge of the other official language of the Council of Europe (French and English); and, as a general rule, to ensure that the list of candidates includes both women and men.

Although it has no formal role under the ECHR, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has adopted measures seeking to ensure that only high quality candidates are put forward by Governments for election to the Court. In 2010 the Committee set up an Advisory Panel of experts on candidates for election as judges to the Court. The Panel's role is to advise states parties on whether the candidates that they propose to nominate to PACE for election meet the criteria set out in the ECHR. On 28 March 2012 the Committee of Ministers also adopted Guidelines on the selection of candidates for the post of judge at the European Court of Human Rights, together with an Explanatory Memorandum identifying good practices. The Guidelines support the standards laid down by the PACE and deal with the criteria for the establishment of lists of candidates; the procedure for eliciting candidates; the procedure for drawing up the recommended list of candidates and the finalisation of lists of candidates. These are available on the Council of Europe website at: and.

In submitting its list of three candidates, Ireland has ensured that it has complied with the evolving standards set down by the Council of Europe. In 2007, the nominations procedure included a public newspaper advertisement, an advertisement on my Department's website and a notice informing the judiciary, the legal professions and universities of the vacancy. A review of all applications was conducted by an expert panel created by the Attorney General to assist him in recommending the three most suitable candidates to the Government. The decision on the submission of the three candidates was taken by Government on foot of a Memorandum submitted by my predecessor. PACE has commended the quality of the candidates put forward for election in respect of Ireland by the Government and the Committee of Ministers has cited Ireland in its Memorandum on Good Practices.


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