ICCPR Case Digest




Submission: 2015.09.16

View Adopted: 2021.07.21

Sainz de la Maza y del Castillo v. Spain

Spanish laws did not allow for revision of sentences and appeals mechanisms for the author’s case - violation of art. 14.

Substantive Issues
  • Fair trial
  • Independent and impartial tribunal
  • Right to appeal
Relevant Articles
  • Article 14
  • Article 14.5
Full Text


The author is a national of Spain. The author claims the State party violated his rights under article 14 of the Covenant. He worked as Councillor of a merchant society that allegedly failed to present different tax declarations. As a result, the author was accused of different crimes against the treasury and was brought to trial. Hethree times since there was not enough evidence to The first two times, the decision was deemed invalidad by a higher court due to lack of reasoning. After the third decision to absolve the author was appealed or was appealed, the court referred the case to a court of higher instance which  found the author guilty of four fiscal offences, imposed a fine and sentenced him to prison for 24 months. He was unable to further appeal the decision. The author claims that by refusing to provide an appeal or sentence revision mechanism, the State party violated his right to a fair trial.


The communication was brought to the European Court of Human Rights under which it was deemed inadmissible. As Spain has excluded jurisdiction of the Committee on matters under consideration by the ECtHR, the State party noted that the case should be deemed inadmissible. However, as the ECtHR did not examine the merits, the Committee found the case admissible.

The State party also claims that domestic remedies have not been exhausted. The Committee found that the domestic legislation was cleared on the lack of possibility to revise the decision taken against the author. Therefore, the author exhausted local remedies related to articulo 14.  However, the Committee determined that the claims regarding the examination of facts and evidence carried out by domestic courts, were inadmissible since they were not sufficiently substantiated.


The Committee recalled that the right to have the conviction and sentence imposed revised by a higher court is also violated when the conviction is done by an appel’s court.The Committee reiterated that the fact that the judicial mechanisms are prescribed by law does not make the mechanisms in accordance with international human rights law. Hence, the State party may well have regulations establishing a trial to be carried out directly by a court of higher instance, but that cannot mean the claimant has no right to appeal.

Since the author had no right to a remedy to effectively appeal his conviction, the Committee concluded that Spain violated the author’s right to a real prospect of justice by denying appeal as prescribed in article 14(5) of the Covenant.


The State party is under an obligation to provide the author with an effective remedy. The State party is also under an obligation to take all steps necessary to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future.


Deadline to provide follow-up information: 21.01.2022

By Laura Cestaro

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