Election of Ukrainian Judge to the European Court: are we entertaining or irritating Europe?
The saga over the election of Ukraines Judge to the European Court of Human Rights [ECHR] in Strasbourg is well into its second year.
In November 2008 the Court, via the Governments Representative to the ECHR, informed Ukraine that Volodymyr Butkevych, Ukraines Judge, had decided to resign and that Ukraine did not have a judge. Judge Butkevych, whose term ended in 2007 has, in fact, long been serving not of his own free will.
According to Article 20 of the Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, judges are elected by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe from a list of three candidates provided by each member state and for a term of six years.
We reported the first stage of the saga of Ukraines new choice of candidates very comprehensively since we were convinced that a politician should not be elected Judge of the European Court of Human Rights which is of such vital importance for Ukrainians (cf. http://www.khpg.org.ua/en/index.php?id=1189248842
The three candidates chosen in early 2007 were: politician Serhiy Holovaty; Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Vasyl Marmazov and bar lawyer and legal secretary to the European Court Anna Yudkivska.
Our stand had nothing to do with specific candidates, but was based on the principle that a politically engaged person was not a suitable candidate, especially given the worrying degree of politicization of the judiciary within Ukraine.
The issue then took on an unpleasant political flavour, since the President issued a Decree on 14 September 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 who changed political sides following the Presidents decree dissolving parliament in April 2007.
The new list of three candidates was only different in one respect: Mr Holovaty was replaced by Stanislav Shevchuk.
PACE, however, did not accept the second list. And Judge Butkevych ended up staying in Strasbourg some 18 months longer than planned.
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 of course 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.
And yet, he has already been loaded with cases (Ukraine is in fourth place for number of applications to the Court.
The saga continues.
With information from an article by Volodymyr Ivanov at http://human-rights.unian.net/ukr/detail/189773 as well as KHPG material