Thursday 3 June 2010

Interventions in Crucifix Case

A few days ago, I reported this, but it seems that the information in the Maltese newspaper was not correct:

As various newspapers report this week, at least ten ECHR state parties will intervene as third parties in the extremely debated case of Lautsi v. Italy. After the Court concluded in its judgment in November 2009 that the obligatory crucifixes in Italian public schools violated the ECHR (see my earlier post on the case here), Italy asked for a referral of the case to the Grand Chamber. A panel of the Court indeed decided to grant this and the case will be heard in a public hearing in Strasbourg on 30 June. The countries involved, mostly with Catholic or Orthodox Christian majorities, are Armenia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, San Marino, Romania and the Russian Federation. All states, and in addition 12 NGOs, intervene in support of Italy. According to the Maltese newspaper The Malta Independent, no country or NGO has asked for leave to intervene arguing in support of Lautsi's position. The very high number of intervening parties is unique in the Court's history, as far as I am aware. Whatever the outcome of the Grand chamber judgment, this will be keenly awaited and strongly scrutinised.
As the comments to this post by the Helsinki Monitor show (thanks for that!), the number of countries might indeed be lower and the interventions by NGOs are not only in support of the Italian position, but several are also in support of the position of the applicant. Let's await the hearing at the end of this month to see which arguments the Court will scrutinise in its questioning of the parties.