Paul Lallion v. Grenada, Case 11.765, Report Nº 124/99, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.106 Doc. 3 rev. at 225 (1999).
September 27, 1999
This report concerns a petition presented to the Inter-American Commission
on Human Rights (hereinafter “the Commission”) by Saul Lehfreund Esq., Solicitor,
of Messrs. Simons, Muirhead & Burton, Solicitors, in London, United Kingdom,
(hereinafter “the petitioners”) by letter dated June 17, 1997, on behalf of
Mr. Paul Lallion. The petition alleges that the State of Grenada (hereinafter
“the State”) violated Mr. Lallion’s rights under the American Convention on
Human Rights (hereinafter “the Convention”) and the American Declaration on
the Rights and Duties of Man (hereinafter "the Declaration").
The petitioners indicate that Mr. Lallion, a national of Grenada, was
convicted of murder on December 19, 1994, and a mandatory death sentence was
imposed on him pursuant to the domestic law of Grenada.
According to the petitioners, Mr. Lallion appealed his conviction and
sentence to the Court of Appeal in Grenada, and his appeal was dismissed by
the Court on September 15, 1995.
The petitioners argue that the Petition is admissible because Mr. Lallion
has satisfied the requirements of Articles 46 of the Convention and Articles
37 and 38 of the Commission’s Regulations. The petitioners also allege that
the State has violated Mr. Lallion’s rights under Articles 4(1), 4(6), 5(1),
5(2), 5(6), 7(2), 7(4), 7(5), 8 and 24 of the Convention and Articles I, II,
XVIII and XVIII of the Declaration.
In their petition, the petitioners requested the Commission to issue
Precautionary Measures pursuant to Article 29(2) of its Regulations against
the State and ask that the State suspend Mr. Lallion’s execution to avoid
irreparable damage to him while his case was pending determination before
the Commission. The petitioners also requested that the Commission recommend
to the State that it quash Mr. Lallion’s death sentence and release him from
In this report, the Commission concludes that the petitioners' claims
relating to violations of the Convention satisfy the requirements of Article
46 of the Convention and are therefore admissible. The Commission also concludes
that the petitioners' claims relating to violations of the Declaration are
PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE COMMISSION
Upon receipt of the petition and submissions of the parties, the Commission
has complied with the requirements of its Regulations. It has studied the petition, requested information from the
parties and forwarded the pertinent parts of each party’s submissions to the
other party. The letter presenting the petition to the Commission was dated
June 17, 1997, and was received by the Commission on June 18, 1997. By letter
dated June 19, 1997, the petitioners informed the Commission that they intended
to forward supplemental arguments concerning the exhaustion of domestic remedies
to the Commission. On June 23, and July 2, 1997, the petitioners forwarded
these supplemental arguments to the Commission.
On July 2, 1997, the Commission forwarded the pertinent parts of the
petition and the petitioners’ supplementary arguments to the State and requested
observations within 90 days with respect to claims raised in the petition,
as well as any additional information regarding exhaustion of domestic remedies.
The Commission also requested that the State stay Mr. Lallion's execution
pending an investigation by the Commission of the alleged facts.
By letter dated November 3, 1997, the petitioners requested that the
Commission hold a hearing in the case and conduct an on-site visit to Richmond
Hill Prison, St. Georges, Grenada, where Mr. Lallion is presently incarcerated.
By letter dated January 23, 1998, the Commission informed the State and the
petitioners that a hearing in the case was scheduled for Friday, February
27, 1998, during the Commission’s 98th Period of Sessions.
By communication dated February 3, 1998, the State replied to the petition.
In its reply, the State indicated that Mr. Lallion'
mandatory death sentence, as well as hanging as a method of execution,
were lawful under the Constitution of Grenada. The State also claimed that
“all domestic legal remedies and procedures have been exhausted and the sentence
of the Court would have to be executed as there have been no undue and unconscionable
delay in the execution."
The Commission transmitted the pertinent parts of the State’s response
to the petitioners on February 11, 1998 and requested that the petitioners
submit its observations within 30 days.
On February 24, 1998, the Commission received additional observations
from the petitioners, claiming that the State had also violated Mr. Lallion’s
right to liberty pursuant to Article 7 of the American Convention. The Commission forwarded the pertinent parts of the additional
information to the State on February 24, 1998, with a response requested within
30 days. Also on February 24, 1998, the Commission received the petitioners’
arguments for the hearing scheduled on February 27, 1998 and forwarded them
to the State on February 25, 1998.
The Commission convened a hearing on the admissibility and merits of
the petitioners' case on February 27, 1998 during its 98th Period
of Sessions. The petitioners attended the hearing and made oral representations
to the Commission in respect of the claims raised in their petition. The State
did not appear at the hearing.
By communications dated September 1, 1998 and August 18, 1999 to the
State, the Commission reiterated its request for information pertaining to
the petitioners' additional submissions dated February 24, 1998.
POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES ON ADMISSIBILITY
Position of the petitioners
Claims by the petitioners
In their petition, the petitioners allege violations of Articles 4(1),
4(6), 5(1), 5(2), 5(6), 7(2), 7(4), 7(5), 8 and 24 of the Convention and Articles
I, II, XVIII and XXVI of the
Declaration. In particular, the petitioners argue that the mandatory death
sentence imposed on Mr. Lallion under the State's penal law governing the
crime of murder violates Mr. Lallion’s right to life under Article 4(1) of
the Convention and Article I of the Declaration, and the right to humane treatment
under Article 5 of the Convention and Article XXVI of the Declaration.
In addition, the petitioners argue that the State has violated Mr.
Lallion’s rights to a fair trial and to equality before the law under Articles
8 and 24 of the Convention and Articles II and XVIII of the Declaration because
of the manner in which the Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy
in Grenada grants amnesty, pardon and commutation of sentence. In particular,
they complaint that Mr. Lallion does not have the right to make representations
to the Advisory Committee, to receive and comment upon information before
the Advisory Committee when it considers his case, or to otherwise have the
benefit of any other procedure regulated by law providing an objective and
proportionate decision on whether the death penalty is an appropriate punishment
in the circumstances of Mr. Lallion's case.
The petitioners also allege violations of Mr. Lallion’s right to humane
treatment under Article 5(1), 5 (2), and 5(6) of the Convention, and Article
XXVI of the Declaration, because of his conditions of detention, and allege
that these violations also render the implementation of his death sentence
Finally, the petitioners allege violations of Article 7(2), 7(4) and
7(5) of the Convention, because Mr. Lallion was detained in police custody
for over 48 hours and was not promptly notified of the charges against him
or brought promptly before a judge or other judicial officer. The petitioners
contend that these rights are also protected under Grenada's domestic law.
Exhaustion of domestic remedies
The petitioners argue that Mr. Lallion has exhausted the domestic remedies
of Grenada because, after being convicted of capital murder on December 19,
1994, he appealed his conviction to the Court of Appeal in Grenada, and the
Court dismissed his appeal on September 15, 1995.
Mr. Lallion did not pursue a petition for Special Leave to Appeal to
the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, based upon a legal opinion received
from British Barristers Kuldip Sing QC and Martin Evans Esq., on January 2,
1997 indicating that the petition may be unsuccessful.
The petitioners claim in this regard that the grounds for appealing
to the Privy Council are very narrow, and the Privy Council has no jurisdiction
to vary the sentence of death and substitute a lesser sentence, and therefore
there are no domestic remedies available to Mr. Lallion in respect of his
The petitioners also argue that Mr. Lallion is unable to pursue a Constitutional
Motion to the Supreme Court of Grenada to challenge his mandatory death sentence
as being inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment because Mr. Lallion
is indigent, and the State’s domestic law does not provide private funds nor
legal aid to indigent persons to pursue such Motions. The petitioners claim
that the Constitution is a complex legal document and that expert legal representation
is therefore required to have a reasonable prospect of success on a Constitutional
Motion. They argue further that
Mr. Lallion's lack of private funding and the unavailability of legal aid
prohibit him from pursuing a Constitutional Motion and therefore render this
remedy illusory. The petitioners also state that there is a dearth of Grenadian
lawyers who are prepared to represent Mr. Lallion without payment.
The petitioners contend that the absence of legal aid for an impecunious
individual is sufficient to establish that domestic remedies are not available
for the purposes of exhaustion. In support of their position, they rely upon
the decision of the United Nations Human Rights Committee (hereinafter referred
to as "HRC") in Champagnie, Palmer & Chisolm v. Jamaica,
in which the HRC stated as follows:
respect to the authors’ possibility of filing a Constitutional Motion, the
Committee considers that, in the absence of Legal Aid, a Constitutional Motion
does not constitute an available remedy in the case.
In light of the above, the Committee finds that it is not precluded
by Article 5(2)(b) of the Optional Protocol from considering the communication.
In addition, the petitioners argue that Mr. Lallion should be excused
from exhausting domestic remedies pursuant to Articles 37(1) and 37(2) of
the Commission’s Regulations because of the State’s failure to provide Mr.
Lallion with legal aid to challenge his Constitutional rights in respect of
his mandatory death sentence.
Timeliness of the petition
The petitioners submit that Mr. Lallion’s petition was timely filed
for two reasons. First, they argue that they were unable to present a petition
to the Commission until June 1997, because they did not received the final
opinion of the Barristers until January 2, 1997 respecting the prospects of
an appeal to the Privy Council, and they did not receive the supplemental
documentation in Mr. Lallion's case until May 8, 1997. Second, the petitioners
argue that the violations alleged on Mr. Lallion’s behalf relating to the
mandatory nature of the death penalty and his treatment and conditions of
his detention are a “continuing situation” against which there are no domestic
remedies available to invoke and exhaust.
In support of their position, the petitioners rely upon the decision
of the European Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter referred to as the
"European Commission") in Application/Requete Nº 11123/84
in which the European Commission held that there was a close correlation between
the exhaustion of domestic remedies under Article 26 of the European Convention
for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (hereinafter referred
to as “the European Convention”)
and the six-month rule under that Convention. The European Commission noted
that the State in Application 11123/84 acknowledged that domestic remedies
for the petitioner's allegations were not available. As a consequence, the
European Commission found that the six-month rule under the European Convention
did not bar the petitioner's claim in the case, stating as follows:
[European] Commission has held in its case-law that when the alleged violation
consists, as in the present case, in a continuing situation against which
there is no domestic remedy available, the six [month] period begins to run
only when the continuing situation has ended (cf. Nº 214/56; loc.cit: cf.
Also Nº 6852/74, Dec. 5.12.78, D.R.15 p.5). This is not so in the present
case, as the impugned provisions are still in force, and hence the six month
time-limit does not apply. It follows that the Government’s objections to
admissibility under Article 26 of the Convention cannot be accepted.
Position of the State
The State responded to the petition on February 3, 1998, and indicated
that Mr. Lallion' mandatory death
sentence, as well as hanging as a method of execution, were lawful under the
Constitution of Grenada. The State also claimed that “all domestic legal remedies
and procedures have been exhausted and the sentence of the Court would have
to be executed as there have been no undue and unconscionable delay in the
execution.” The State has not contested the admissibility of the petition.
Competence of the Commission
The Commission has subject matter jurisdiction in this case, as the
State deposited its instrument of accession to the American Convention on
July 18, 1978,
and the petitioners allege that the State has violated Articles 4, 5, 8, and
24 of the Convention. The Commission also has temporal jurisdiction, as the
petitioners' complaints pertain to acts or omissions that transpired after
the State's accession to the Convention. Finally, the Commission has personal
jurisdiction, as the victim is a citizen of Grenada and the petitioners were
authorized under Article 44 of the Convention to lodge a petition on behalf
of Mr. Lallion. The Commission is therefore fully competent to examine this
The petitioners have also alleged violation of Articles I, II, XVIII
and XXVI of the Declaration. In this regard, the Commission notes that once
the Convention entered into force for the State of Grenada on July 18, 1978,
the Convention, and not the Declaration became the source of legal norms for
application by the Commission,
insofar as the petition alleges violations of substantially identical rights
set forth in both instruments and those claimed violations do not involve
a continuing situation.
In Mr. Lallion's case, the rights alleged to have been violated by the State
under the Declaration are similarly guaranteed in the Convention. In addition,
acts or omissions to which the alleged violations relate occurred after the
State manifested its consent to be bound by the Convention. Therefore, the
Commission declares the petitioners' claims relating to the Declaration inadmissible,
and will only consider the petitioners' claims relating to the Convention.
ADMISSIBILITY OF PETITION
Exhaustion of domestic remedies
The petitioners argue that Mr. Lallion exhausted the domestic remedies
of Grenada upon the dismissal of his appeal against his conviction and sentence
by the Court of Appeal of Grenada on September 15, 1995. The State has likewise
stated that Mr. Lallion has exhausted all domestic legal remedies and procedures.
Based upon the record before it, the Commission finds that this petition is
admissible under Article 46(1)(a) of the Convention
Timeliness of the petition
The petitioners argue that this petition was timely filed under Article
46(1)(b) of the Convention and Article 38(2) of the Commission’s Regulations.
The State has not contested the admissibility of the petition on the
ground of timeliness or otherwise demonstrated that the petition was not timely
Therefore, the Commission finds that this petition is not inadmissible
under Article 46(1)(b) of the American Convention.
Duplication of procedures
The petitioners have indicated that the subject of Mr. Lallion’s petition
has not been submitted for examination under any other procedure of international
investigation. The State has not contested the issue of duplication of procedures.
Therefore, the Commission finds that the petition is not inadmissible under
Articles 46(1)(c) and 47(d) of the Convention.
The petitioners have alleged that the State has violated Mr. Lallion's
rights under Articles 4, 5, 7, 8 and 24 of the Convention, and have provided
factual allegations that tend to establish that the alleged violations may
be well-founded. The Commission therefore concludes, without prejudging the
merits of the case, that the petitioners' case is not inadmissible under Articles
47(b) or 47(c) of the Convention.
In accordance with the foregoing analysis of the requirements of the
Convention and the applicable provisions of the Commission's Regulations,
and without prejudging the merits of this petition, the Commission decides
to declare admissible the alleged violations of the Convention presented on
behalf of Mr. Lallion, and to declare inadmissible the alleged violations
of the Declaration presented on behalf of Mr. Lallion.
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS,
To declare the violations of the Convention alleged in the petition
To declare the violations of the Declaration alleged in the petition
To transmit this report to the State of Grenada and to the petitioners.
To place itself at the disposal of the parties concerned with a view
to reaching a friendly settlement of the matter.
To maintain in effect the precautionary measures issued on July 2,1997.
To make public this report and publish this report in its Annual Report
to the General Assembly.
and signed in the city of Washington, D.C., on the 27th day of
the month of September, 1999. (Signed): Robert K. Goldman, Chairman; Hélio
Bicudo, First Vice-Chairman; Claudio Grossman, Second Vice-Chairman; Commissioners:
Alvaro Tirado Mejía, Carlos Ayala Corao and Jean Joseph Exumé.
Section 234 of the Criminal Code
(Cap. 76 of the 1958 Revised Laws of Grenada).
 U.N.H.R.C., Champagnie, Palmer & Chisolm v. Jamaica, Communication No. 445/1991.
Article 5(2) of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights provides: “The Committee shall not consider
any communication from an individual unless it has ascertained that: (b)
The individual has exhausted all available domestic remedies.
This shall not be the rule where the application of the remedies
is unreasonably prolonged.
Decision of 9 December 1987 on the admissibility of the Application, pp.
52 to 69.
Article 26 of the European Convention provides: “The Commission may only
deal with the matter after all domestic remedies have been exhausted,
according to the generally recognised rules of international law, and
within a period of six months from the date on which the final decision
Id. p. 67.
Basic Documents Pertaining to Human Rights in the Inter-American System,
OEA/Ser.L.V/ii.92 doc.31 rev.3 (3 May 1996), p. 53.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights in its Advisory Opinion OC-10/89,
(interpretation of the American
Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man Within the Framework of Article
64 of the American Convention on Human Rights.) July 14, 1989, para.
46, stated that “For the States Parties to the Convention, the specific
source of their Obligations with respect to the protection of human rights
is, in principle, the Convention itself.”
The Commission has established that it can find violations both of the
Declaration and the Convention when there is a continuous situation, such
as a denial of justice, which begins before and persists after the State
concerned has ratified the American Convention.
See: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Annual Report 1987-1988.
Resolution 28/88 Case 10.109 (Argentina), September 13, 1988.
Article 38(2) provides that:
“In the circumstances set forth in Article 37(2) of these Regulations,
the deadline for presentation of a petition to the Commission shall be
within a reasonable period of time, in the Commission’s judgment, as from
the date on which the alleged violation of rights has occurred, considering
the circumstances of each specific case.”
See I/A Court H.R., Neira Alegria Case, Preliminary Objections,
Judgment, December 11, 1991 pp. 44-45, at paras. 25-31.