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Friends of court, HFHR and Citizens’ Watch launch joint project

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and St. Petersburg-based NGO Citizens’ Watch have launched a joint project, The promotion of Polish experiences in the use of amicus curiae opinions as an instrument for strengthening legal activities – a programme for Russia.

The amicus curiae opinion is a measure widely used in the judicial practice by non-governmental organisations to express their views on ongoing court proceedings that concern matters covered by their NGOs objectives. The purpose of the opinion is to assist the court in considering the case in a comprehensive and multi-faceted manner, taking into account views and arguments that may not always be put forward by parties to the proceedings. By filing the written amicus curiae opinion, or “brief”, an NGO does not become a party to the proceedings or seeks to impose any decision on the court.

“The institution of amicus curia has successfully been used in many countries, including Poland. The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights has extensive experience in this field. The purpose of our project is to disseminate the knowledge about the amicus curiae and to promote its effective use, also in Russia”, says Aleksandra Iwanowska, a coordinator of the project.

The project will publish a handbook for lawyers, academics and human rights NGOs, entitled Amicus curiae – a lawyer’s toolkit. We will also organise an international conference, which will be a unique experience-sharing and networking opportunity for Polish and Russian lawyers. We also want to launch a network of experts capable of drafting amicus curiae opinions in diverse thematic areas”, says Olga Salomatova from the HFHR.

The project is implemented in cooperation with Citizens’ Watch, a Russian non-governmental organisation with broad experience in the raising of awareness of the laws of Russia, their application and the functioning of the justice system and its adherence to international standards. The project is financed by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as part of the Public Diplomacy 2019 grant contest.

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