The Albanian government has failed to meet the deadline set by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to propose three candidates for a judge at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The failure to provide any candidates for the Albanian judge risks delaying the cases pending at the ECtHR that involve Albania. The ECtHR is the highest court for members of the Council of Europe, including Albania.
The procedure to select a new Albanian judge at the ECtHR has been going on for nearly a year. On October 6, 2016, the Committee on the Election of Judges to the European Court of Human Rights recommended the rejection of all candidates presented by the Rama government, declaring:
The Committee recommends to the Assembly to reject the list in view of the national selection procedure not being in line with the standards required by the Assembly and the Committee of Ministers.
The list of candidates, containing Sokol Berberi, Gent Ibrahimi, and Ina Rama (who has in the meantime become member of the vetting Appeals College), was indeed rejected by PACE on October 11.
The second attempt of the Albanian government to propose a list was on March 14, 2017, when it proposed Aurela Anastasi, Sokol Berberi, and Aleksandër Muskaj. The three candidates were interviewed by the Committee on April 6, which recommended:
As not all candidates are sufficiently well qualified, the Committee recommends that the list be rejected by the Assembly and that the Government of Albania be requested to submit a new list of candidates.
On April 13, 2017, again the PACE rejected the three candidates.
Even though the Albanian government announced a third list of candidates, containing Sokol Berberi, Suela Mëneri, and Markeljan Koça, it now appears that it failed to deliver this list on time to PACE. The deadline to submit the new list of candidates was August 31, but inquiries of Exit at PACE reveal that the Albanian government has sent no proposal yet.
It seems clear that the government wants Sokol Berberi to be elected, but appears to have difficulties finding two other qualified judges to make up a good alternative.
Berberi is a former judge at the Constitutional Court who resigned on September 15, 2016. Berberi’s mandate has already finished in April, but he stayed on the Constitutional Court in order for his successor to be elected by Parliament. He resigned, however, when he noted that the “central institutions” showed a “lack of willingness” to elect his successor.
It now appears that the government also shows a “lack of willingness” to have a new judge at the ECtHR elected.