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Former Swiss Green Party judge: ‘ECHR judgement not tenable’

In the case of the climate seniors, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) barely addressed the central questions in the grounds for the judgement, said Pfiffner
In the case of the climate seniors, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) barely addressed the central questions in the grounds for the judgement, said Former Green Party federal judge Brigitte Pfiffner. Keystone

Former Green Party federal judge Brigitte Pfiffner has described the climate judgement of the European Court of Human Rights as "legally untenable". The court is making policy instead of interpreting the Convention on Human Rights, said Pfiffner.

In the case of the climate seniors, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) barely addressed the central questions in the grounds for the judgement, said Pfiffner in an interview with the SonntagsZeitung newspaper published on Sunday. The Zurich native was a judge at the Federal Supreme Court for around ten years.

One of the questions is why an association is entitled to lodge a complaint and which human right has been violated by the Climate Seniors Association. “This is dealt with in just eleven lines in the 138-page judgement,” she said. The reasoning was “because the matter is important”, the former federal judge said.

+Landmark ruling: Switzerland’s climate policy violates human rights

There was also no convincing answer to the question of the extent to which the association’s “right to respect for private and family life” was restricted due to Swiss climate policy. “For logical reasons, there can’t be any: The right to respect for private and family life can only accrue to a natural person,” said Pfiffner.

Declining reputation

“With such politically coloured judgements, the court undermines its credibility,” she said. In many countries, the Court’s reputation is already in decline. In Germany, Austria and England, there are discussions as to whether ECHR judgements should still be considered binding or merely recommendations.

+‘Absurd’ European climate ruling could harm democracy, say Swiss press

At the beginning of April, the Court accepted a complaint from the Climate Seniors Association and found a violation of the Convention on Human Rights. According to the court, Switzerland had failed to fulfil its duties with regard to climate protection. Swiss politicians reacted very differently to the decision. The red-green party and environmental organisations welcomed the judgement. The conservative side said it was dangerous for the courts to play politics.

Adapted from German by DeepL/amva

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