Thursday, June 3, 2010

10 EU States Support Italy's Side in Crucifix Case

STRASBOURG, France, JUNE 1, 2010 ( The "crucifix trial" in the European Court of Human Rights has given rise to an unprecedented intervention of 10 member States as third parties.

The European Centre for Law and Justice, which was also authorized to become a third party in the court hearing regarding the legitimacy of displaying crucifixes in Italian schools, reported today that ten other States will have this amicus curiae status in the "Lautsi vs. Italy" case.

This case was referred to the Grand Chamber when the Italian government appealed a decision issued by the Second Section of the court last November, which spoke against the presence of the crucifix in classrooms.

These States, all of which are supporting Italy in the desire to overturn last November's decision, include: Armenia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, San-Marino, Romania, and The Russian Federation.

The third party status allows the States to submit to the court their written and oral observations as official parties to the case.

The court's Grand Chamber will hold a public hearing on June 30, and the final judgment on the case is expected by the end of the year.

The director of the European Centre for Law and Justice, Gregor Puppinck, stated in a communiqué today that this is "an important precedent in the practice of the court, because usually member States abstain from intervening, or intervene only when the case affects a national of their State."

"The Lautsi case is unique and unprecedented," he continued. "Ten States are in fact explaining to the court what is the limit of its jurisdiction; what is the limit of its ability to create new 'rights' against the will of the member States."

"This can be seen as a kind of counter-balancing of power," he explained.

The communiqué also noted the "tremendous importance" of the fact that this is "an unprecedented alliance between Catholics and Orthodox countries in the face of the liberal and secularist ideology."

"Those countries are uniting their forces to protect their religious heritage and freedom to reaffirm that the Christian symbols have a natural right to be displayed in public within Christian countries," it added.

The center pointed out that the court's role is to apply the European Convention on Human Rights, which says nothing about "duties to secularize education in Europe" nor about "the nature of the relationship between the State and the church."

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