Karinna Moskalenko on the Election of the New Judge from Russia to the European Court of Human Rights: "We're Glad Our Voices Haven’t Gone Unheard"

Vera Vasilieva, 08/10/12 

Source: HRO.org

· European Court of Human Rights  · Access to Justice  · Human rights defenders

In the session which ended on the 5 October the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) elected the new Russian judge to the European Court of Human Rights, Supreme Arbitration Court Judge Dmitry Dedov. Karinna Moskalenko, a lawyer with the Centre for International Protection, Commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists and member of the Moscow Helsinki group, has commented on the development.

An overwhelming majority of PACE members voted for Dmitry Dedov.

'Our efforts have been met with partial success,' believes Karinna Moskalenko.

Human rights defenders believe that the newly elected Russian judge to the European Court is no blatant establishment puppet but a judge who is an expert, an academic.

Dmitry Dedov is a doctor of juridical sciences and author of academic publications on the application of general principles of law.

'It's a shame that the judge doesn't work closely with human rights issues, but as you can see from his publications he is by no means a stranger to these ideas. He can pick up the rest at the Court. We are overjoyed that our voices haven't gone unheard and that it's brought about a positive result in Russia’s current circumstances,' the lawyer says.

Countries nominate their judge candidates to PACE, while PACE members elect the new judge.

On 1 July 2011 the Ministry of Justice announced a competition for selecting candidates for the position of judge at the European Court. In autumn 2011 the commission, headed by the Russian Federation's Representative to the European Court, Georgy Matyushkin, selected 6 of the 13 contestants. The list was then approved by the Interdepartmental Commission on the Affairs of the Council of Europe and in February 2012 then President Dmitry Medvedev approved three candidates. Aside from Dmitry Dedov, the list included Supreme Court Judge for criminal cases Olga Vedernikova and Saint Petersburg State University Professor Andrey Bushev.

Human rights defenders requested on several occasions that a new open competition for Russian Federation judge to the European Court be held, as in their assessment the candidate selection procedure conducted had been neither democratic nor transparent.

So in mid-December last year the Moscow Helsinki Group wrote to PACE requesting that it review the competition. Moscow Helsinki Group sent another letter expressing their concerns regarding the candidate selection procedure to the Council of Europe (this time to bureau members) on 22 June 2012.

MHG's concern was provoked in part by the fact that the list of potential candidates for the Russian judge position included jurists who specialized exclusively in commercial disputes.

It was expected that the list of Russian candidates would be reviewed at the PACE June session, however the issue was then carried over to October. The real reasons for this decision are unclear, but the Russian authorities explained it by saying that one of the judges had not wanted to participate in the competition and had themselves withdrawn their name from the list.

Georgy Matyushkin's commission also rejected all of the human rights defenders' complaints. The commission stated that the selection of candidates was conducted with extreme thoroughness and accountability.

Despite her reserved optimism as regards Dmitry Dedov as Russia’s new judge at the European Court, Karinna Moskalenko's critical attitude to the selection process for the position remains unchanged:

'This doesn't change the fact that the competition for the position of Russia's judge at the European Court was not democratic, wide or transparent, which is what we actively spoke out against,' Karinna Moskalenko emphasized.

Dmitry Dedov will take up his post on 1 November when the powers of the current Russian judge at Strasbourg, Anatoly Kovler, expire.

Dedov was born in 1966. He graduated with honours from the law faculty at Moscow State University, three years later defending his candidate dissertation, and in 2005 he defended his doctoral dissertation.