SLOVAKIA’s slate of candidates for the position of judge of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is one of the worst scandals seen in recent months, wrote signatories of an open letter addressed to the Slovak government.

The letter protests against the slate of candidates drafted by the government and the Judicial Council and sent as part of an initiative by the non-governmental Fair-Play Alliance. In it, signatories called upon the government not to submit the slate, which features the Vice-Dean of Comenius University’s Law Faculty, Ondrej Laciak, the representative of Slovakia to the ECHR, Marica Pirošíková, and judge Andrea Krišková, to the Council of Europe and asks the Judicial Council to hold a new election.

“According to our opinion, the candidates’ slate submitted by Slovakia puts the country to international shame and is one of the worst scandals seen in recent months,” said the Alliance’s Zuzana Wienk, as quoted by the TASR newswire, adding that the slate was drafted by the Judicial Council in a less-than-transparent process.

The audio recording from the Judicial Council’s session serves as evidence that not even council members had any say in the creation of the rules under which candidates were selected, with the the actual rules being unknown at the time either to the public or to council members, according to Wienk. The signatories harbour a conviction that the whole selection process was controlled only by Štefan Harabin, the chair of the Judicial Council and president of the Supreme Court. In reaction to the open letter, the government recommended the signatories to turn to the Judicial Council, as the government is not invested with powers to interfere with the selection process of candidates, TASR wrote.

“Even though the stance of the government is crucial within the national procedure, it is based exclusively on the proposal made by the Judicial Council,” the government’s press department wrote in a statement, as quoted by TASR.

Harabin has rejected the claims made in the open letter.

“The activity of the Fair-Play Alliance can be seen as purpose-built in its effort to protect its secret favourite – Judge Juraj Babjak – as part of the nepotism link between him and his wife who is actively involved in the third sector (NGOs),” said Harabin, as quoted by TASR. He also called the initiative a scheme that was plotted by unsuccessful first-round candidates.