ICCPR Case Digest

CCPR/C/126/D/2655/2015

Communication

2655/2015

Submission: 2015.10.14

View Adopted: 2019.07.18

Sergey Ivanov and Aleksey Ivanov v. Belarus

Imposition of a death sentence following procedurally flawed trial, violation of the right to life, to a fair trial

Substantive Issues
  • Arbitrary execution
  • Fair hearing
  • Fair trial
  • Presumption of innocence
Relevant Articles
  • Article 14.1
  • Article 14.2
  • Article 14.3 (a)
  • Article 14.3 (b)
  • Article 14.3 (d)
  • Article 6.1
  • Article 6.2
  • Article 9
Full Text

Facts

The author was a Belarus national (Mr. Aleksey Ivanov), submitting the communication on behalf of his brother (Mr. Sergey Ivanov) who was at the time detained on death row awaiting execution following the imposition of a death sentence.

  • On 29 August 2013, the body of a girl A.A. was found bearing the signs of violence. Mr. S. Ivanov was arrested on suspicion of murder and detained on the same day. 
  • On 18 March 2015, the Gomel Regional Court found S. Ivanov guilty of numerous charges, including murder committed with cruelty (article 139 of the Criminal Code). The court sentenced him to death.

Mr. S. Ivanov appealed to the Supreme Court of Gomel Regional on the basis that the trial court did not consider as mitigating circumstances the defendants "sincere confession" to the murder and his co-operation throughout the investigation.

The author claims the State party violated his brother's rights under Articles 6(1) and (2), 9(1)-(4) and 14(1), (2), (3)(a), (b) and (d) of the Covenant. 

  • The author notes among other procedural failings, in Belarus, a person's counsels or his family are not notified of the date and time of a planned execution, only once the execution has taken place. He claims that the trial, lacking due process guarantees and concluding in a death sentence, violated in itself his brother's rights under Article 6(1) and (2) of the Covenant (the right to life). 
  • The author filed for interm measures at the time of the communication which were granted by the Committee.
  • Despite the granting of interim measures, on 24 May 2016 the Committee recieved confirmation that the Mr. S. Ivanov's death sentence had been carried out on 18 April 2016.

Admissibility

  • The Committee determined that the same matter was not being examined under another procedure of international investigation or settlement.
  • The Committee also noted the State party's argument that the applicant had failed to exhaust all domestic remedies, noting the authors contention that confidential client meetings with counsel did not take place due to the presence of investigators or prison authorities. On this basis, the Committee was not able to determine whether domestic remedies had been exhausted with regard to the claim under Article 14(3)(b) and (d), and considered this claim precluded by Article 5(2) of the Optional Protocol.
  • The Committee also found that allegations of violations of Article 9(1), (2), and (4) and Article 14(1), and (3)(a), (b) and (d) were insufficiently substantiated for the purposes of admissibilitiy.
  • The Committee however considered that the remaining claims with respect to Article 6(1) and (2), 9(3) and 14(2) of the Covenant are sufficiently substantied and therefore admissible. 

Merits

  • Regarding the claims that Mr. S. Ivanov was not afforded his rights under Article 9(3) of the Covenant, the Committee considers that the facts before it show that Mr. S. Ivanov was not brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power, as required under Article 9(3) of the Covenant. Accordingly, the Committee concludes that the above-mentioned facts reveal a violation of Mr. S. Ivanov’s rights under Article 9(3) of the Covenant.
  • On the basis of the information before it the Committee considers that the facts as presented demonstrate that the right of Mr. S. Ivanov to be presumed innocent, as guaranteed under Article 14(2) of the Covenant, has been violated.
  • The Committee concludes that the final sentence of death and the subsequent execution of Mr. S. Ivanov did not meet the requirements of Article 14 and that, as a result, his right to life under Article 6 of the Covenant has also been violated.

Recommendations

  • Pursuant to Article 2(3)(a) of the Covenant, the State party is under an obligation to provide individuals whose Covenant rights have been violated with an effective remedy in the form of full reparation. The State party is also under an obligation to take all steps necessary to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future.

Separate Opinions

Committee members Arif Bulkan, Hélène Tigroudja, Andreas Zimmermann and Gentian Zyberi published a partly dissenting joint opinion. 

  • The minority noted that they fully concur with the Committee's conclusions expressed in the judgement, however disagree with the finding of inadmissibility of the authors claim under Article 14(3)(b) and (d).
  • Noting many irregularities in the the process, including the 450 day detention before the applicant was taken before a Judge, the denial of counsel and other procedural guarantees, the minority queried what domestic remedy would be available to the applicant and his brother and effective in the circumstances.
  • Against this legal background, the minority also found a violation of the applicant's rights under Article 14(3)(b) and (d) of the Covenant. 

Implementation

The Committee requested Belarus provide, within 180 days (or by 18 January 2020), information about the measures taken to give effect to the Committee’s Views.

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