The European Court of Human Right’s decision in the case S.A.S. v. France has been subject to substantial legal commentary. It was recently featured in the ASIL Insights, where the content of the judgment, the dissent as well as its implications were discussed. Earlier in July 2014 Professor Sytal Kalantry provided an analysis of the judgment, noting the fact that there were a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that took part in the case as amici curiae. The case concerned the French law that prohibits the covering of the face in public. The Grand Chamber of the Court granted a leave to Amnesty International, Liberty, Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), Article 19 and the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University to submit amicus curiae briefs.
Currently, amicus curiae participants are commonplace in international tribunals. Amicus curiae submissions are a form of intervention by persons not party to the proceedings that involve presenting views on points of law or fact. This type of intervention in judicial proceedings has expanded from common law systems to countries with civil law traditions and to international adjudication. Article 36 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms allows amicus curiae briefs from states, physical and legal persons and Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.
In terms of organizations that acted as amici curiae in the S.A.S case, all NGOs, except the Human Rights Centre from Ghent University Law Faculty are repeat-players. They are veterans in this capacity and routinely submit briefs across a variety of tribunals. In fact, Amnesty International and Liberty are among the most active amici curiae before the European Court. Amnesty International is an active amicus curiae before a number of tribunals. In the past the organization submitted briefs before the European Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Court.