Tue, 05 Dec 2023

DUBLIN, Ireland: Judge Siofra O'Leary, age 53, will be the first woman to hold the position of president of the European Court of Human Rights.

She will begin her term on 1 November, replacing current president Judge Robert Spano from Iceland.

O'Leary has sat on the European court since July 2015, as well as being vice president of the court since January 2022.

The European Court of Human Rights was established in 1959 as an international court to rule on individual or state petitions alleging violations of civil and political rights, based upon the rights outlined in the European Convention on Human Rights.

The court's decisions are followed by the 46 Council of Europe member states that ratified the Convention.

Following O'Leary's election as court president, Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney congratulated her.

"Judge O'Leary has served with great distinction since her appointment to the Court, and her election as president is a mark of the high regard in which she is held," Coveney said.

Coveney added that it is "a source of pride that the first female President of the Court should be an Irish judge."

"The Court is central to the protection of human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law in Europe. Never have these ideals and principles been more important," Coveney said.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee also congratulated O'Leary on her election.

McEntee said that judgements made by the court in Irish cases have "paved the way for many seismic reforms in Irish society" that have improved safeguards for human rights.

"Judge O'Leary's appointment as President of the Court is a source of great pride for our country, and is testament to her recognized expertise and the distinction with which she has served in her current and former positions," McEntee added.

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