Malta has again failed to successfully nominate a judge to sit on the European Court of Human Rights because the candidates proposed did not include a woman.

This is the third time that Malta's three nominations have been turned down because no female candidate was proposed. The Maltese judge on the court is Giovanni Bonello who was supposed to have been replaced two years ago.

The decision to reject Malta's nominees was made by the Committee of Human Rights and Legal Affairs of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly. Although 30 of the 42 members present yesterday backed Malta, it was not enough.

A spokesman for the Justice Ministry explained that Malta could not have succeeded because voting was based on full membership, the absolute majority of which was 43, one more than the total number present at the meeting.

The last time the committee met to discuss Malta's list, the meeting could not be held as there was no quorum.

After the list had been ditched a second time, Justice Minister Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici had attended a meeting of the sub-committee for the election of judges to explain why Malta had nominated three men and no women. He told them that, unlike other countries, Malta had issued a call for applications for the post. The three chosen judges - Chief Justice Vincent DeGaetano, Mr Justice Joseph Filletti and Mr Justice Joseph David Camilleri - sat on the Maltese Constitutional Court and were the most qualified for the job.

The government is now weighing its options, which could include issuing a fresh call for applications or else continuing to stand its ground.

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