Thursday 25 April 2024

New Judges Elected

Last week, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), elected three new judges to the European Court of Human Rights, in respect of Ireland, Latvia, and Liechtenstein. 

In respect of Ireland, Úna Ní Raifeartaigh was elected. She is currently a judge of the Court of Appeal of Ireland as well as being an ad hoc/substitute judge for the European Court of Human Rights. Before these functions, she was a longtime practising barrister, with an emphasis on criminal law. She has also taught at Trinity College Dublin and has a researcher for the Law Reform Commission. She thus has a very broad knowledge of the law, including the ECHR, from a wide range of professional perspectives. She will succeed the current judge in respect of Ireland, President Síofra O’Leary, whose term as a judge will end within a few months.

In respect of Liechtenstein, Alain Chablais has been elected. Maybe somewhat curiously to outsiders, he is the current Government Agent of Switzerland (not Liechtenstein) before the European Court of Human Rights as well as before a number of UN treaty bodies. In itself not a novelty of course, as the judges in respect of Liechtenstein have been from other states before, Mr Chablais has Swiss and French nationality. Previously, he has been a judge at the Swiss Federal Administrative Court, worked for the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and has for a full decade been a member of staff at the Directorate General of Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Council of Europe, amongst others with the Venice Commission and the Secretariat of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. More recently, as the  Swiss Government Agent, he has participated in the work of the CDDH, the Steering Committee for Human Rights, including presiding over its Committee of Experts on the System of the ECHR, as well as being involved in the negotiations around the European Union's accession to the ECHR. No stranger to Strasbourg thus!

And in respect of Latvia, Artūrs Kučs was elected. Currently, he is a judge of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia as well as an ad hoc judge of the European Court of Human Rights. He is also associate professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Latvia, where he led its Human Rights Institute in the past, and in his academic capacity for many years he was the Latvian representative (national director) in the EMa programme, the European Master's in Human Rights and Democratisation. In addition, he has trained judges and has worked for the Ombudsman of Latvia. Finally, he is a Member of the Management Board of the Fundamental Rights Agency and an Alternate Member of the Venice Commission. Another well-versed new judge in the many professional shapes legal work can take as well as being very familiar with the ECHR system.

Judges are elected for terms of nine years. Congratulations to the newly elected ones!