Election of Russian Judge at the European Court of Human Rights Ruled Lawful

Source: HRO.org (info), 18/04/12

· The Courts

Moscow’s Zamoskvoretsky district court has dismissed the application by Karinna Moskalenko, lawyer of the former head of Yukos Mikhail Khodorkovsky, to annul the results of the competition for the position of judge at the European Court of Human Rights from Russia, Interfax reports. This ruling therefore finds the procedure for selecting judges at the European Court as conducted by the Ministry of Justice to be lawful.

In 2011 a competition for the post of Russian judge at the European Court of Human Rihgts was announced. There were fifteen applicants for the position. The Ministry of Justice conducted an initial selection, choosing six of the 15. The candidates were presented to the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev for confirmation, who selected three of the six, two of whom were current judges of the Supreme Court of Arbitration.

In the view of Karinna Moskalenko, the competition was announced and conducted unlawfully since the Ministry of Justice did not publish in the press in good time the rules governing the putting forward of candidates. According to the suit brought by Moskalenko, the announcement concerning the putting forward of candidates was published after the term for submitting documents had expired. In her view, as a result of the actions of the Ministry of Justice the applicant had been denied the opportunity to take part in the selection process.

During the court hearing Judge Marina Mussimovich of Zamoskvoretsky district court asked the representative of the Ministry of Justice why from a large number of applicants for the position of judge at the European Court of Human Rights, three judges of the court of arbitration whose expertise lay in commercial law had been chosen, and not a single judge from a court of general jurisdiction with knowledge of human rights. The representative of the Minstry of Justice was not able to answer this question, and referred to the choice made by the President of Russia, Grani.ru reports, citing Interfax.

In December 2011 Moscow Helsinki Group appealed to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to discuss at its next session “the problem that has arisen in Russia in connection with conducting a competition among candidates for the position of judge of the European Court of Human Rights.” Moscow Helsinki Group considers that the authorities “had effectively prevented the conducting of an open, transparent competition and had made the selection of more worthy candidates practically impossible.”

Although an open selection process for judges, together with the participation of all those lawyers in Russia who wished to take part, was conducted in Russia for the first time, Moscow Helsinki Group considers that the procedure does not correspond to the recommendations of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The letter signed by the head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Ludmila Alekseeva, states that Moscow Helsinki Group had planned to recommend as a judge of the “chief court in Europe on human rights” retired judge of the Constitutional court Anatoly Kononov, the head of the non-profit organization YURIX Anita Soboleva, the head of the Mass Media Rights Defence Galina Arapova, and two members of the Moscow Helsinki Group: retired judge Sergei Pashin and Karinna Moskalenko.

Chief of staff of the head of the office of the Russian representative at the European Court of Human Rights, Andrei Fedorov, confirmed that the complaint by the Moscow Helsinki Group to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe had been received by the Ministry of Justice “via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs”. According to Fedorov, a number of the arguments made by the Moscow Helsinki Group did not correspond to reality, and the others, in the words of the representative of the Ministry of Justice, were “demagogy”. He said that as yet no procedures for selecting judges had been established at the international level, and some of the Member States of the Council of Europe do not conduct any competitions at all.