Tuesday 30 January 2024

Three New Judges and Commissioner Elected

Last week, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) had a busy week in many respects, including in terms of elections. No less than three new judges were elected to the European Court of Human Rights. In addition, a new Commissioner for Human Rights was elected.

Stéphane Pisani was elected as judge to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Luxembourg. He is a deputy Judge at the Administrative Tribunal and a deputy member of the Judicial Disciplinary Court of Luxembourg. He is also a member of the Superior Courts Network attached to the ECHR and has taught legal professionals about human rights. In the past, he was seconded to the registry of the Court.

Diana Petrova Kovacheva was elected as judge to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Bulgaria. She is currently the Ombudsman (sic) of Bulgaria as well as a professor of international law and international relations. In the past, she also served as Minister of Justice and worked for various civil society organisations, specifically on anti-corruption.

Gediminas Sagatys was elected as judge in respect of Lithuania. For over a decade, judge Sagatys has been serving as a judge in Lithuania's Supreme Court. He is currently also the President of the Association of Judges of Lithuania. Previously, he has been a practising lawyer, academic, and legal advisor for the legislative and the executive in his country. He received his PhD on an ECHR-focused topic, 'The Right of the Child to Family Relations in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and in the Law of the Republic of Lithuania. His election brings to conclusion a long, bumpy process after PACE had rejected the original list of three candidates in 2022 and the national pre-selection had to be redone.

Finally, Michael O'Flaherty, was elected as the new Commissioner for Human Rights. With his vast expertise in human rights, working in various capacities for both, academia, an NHRI (Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission), the United Nations (as member of the Human Rights Committee) and the European Union, where he led the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) for many years until very recently, he knows the global and European Human Rights ecosystems in and out. He will succeed the current Commissioner Dunja Mijatovic, who has been a very strong voice for human rights, for a six-year, non-renewable term on 1 April 2024. Within the ECHR system, the Commissioner has a right, as Article 36 of the Convention provides, to submit a third party intervention and take part in hearings in cases before the Court.

Congratulations to all of them!