By Fleur van Leeuwen, LL.M. Ph.D., Dutch human rights researcher, based in Istanbul Turkey.
On 29 September 2015 the international organisation Human Rights in Childbirth received a letter from the deputy registrar of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR or Court). They were informed that the President of the Grand Chamber had decided to refuse their request to intervene as a third party in the Court’s proceedings in the case of Dubska and Krejzova v. the Czech Republic – a case regarding a de facto home birth ban currently at the Grand Chamber – as he considered ‘that the intervention requested (was) not necessary in the ‘interests of the proper administration of justice’. Human Rights in Childbirth, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that aims to advance the rights of women in childbirth, was not the only organisation that was refused intervention; the Center for Reproductive Rights, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, and human rights experts Dr. Alicia Yamin (Harvard University) and Prof. Paul Hunt (Essex University, the first UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health) were some of the others that were denied leave. On the other hand, the International Study Group of the World Association of Perinatal Medicine (whose brief was written by home birth opponent Dr. Chervenak), the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), the Czech Ombudsperson: Ms Anna Sabotova, the Czech Union of Midwives (one of the official Czech midwifery organisations), the Croat-, and the Slovak governments were granted leave to intervene. The legal representatives of the applicants in the case were taken aback when they received the letter from the deputy registrar informing them of the accepted and refused amicus curiae briefs: was this not a very arbitrary selection?