by: Mr. Anthony B. Mansaraj et al. ; Mr. Gborie Tamba et al.; Mr.
Abdul Karim Sesay et al.
Alleged victim: The authors
State party: Sierra Leone
Date of communication: 12 and 13 October 1998 (initial submission)
The Human Rights Committee, established under article 28 of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,
Meeting on: 16
Having concluded its consideration of communications No. 839/1998, 840/1998
and 841/1998, submitted to the Human Rights Committee by Mr. Anthony B.
Mansaraj et al, Mr. Gborie Tamba et al. and Mr. Abdul Karim Sesay et al.
under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and
into account all written information made available to it by the authors
of the communication, and the State party,
Adopts the following:
Views under article 5, paragraph 4, of the Optional Protocol
1.1 The authors of the communications are Messrs. Anthony Mansaraj, Gilbert
Samuth Kandu-Bo and Khemalai Idrissa Keita (communication No. 839/1998),
Tamba Gborie, Alfred Abu Sankoh (alias Zagalo), Hassan Karim Conteh, Daniel
Kobina Anderson, Alpha Saba Kamara, John Amadu Sonica Conteh, Abu Bakarr
Kamara (communication No. 840/1998), Abdul Karim Sesay, Kula Samba, Nelson
Williams, Beresford R. Harleston, Bashiru Conteh, Victor L. King, Jim
Kelly Jalloh and Arnold H. Bangura (communication No. 841/1998). The authors
are represented by counsel.
1.2 On 16 July
2001, the Committee decided to join the consideration of these communications.
as submitted by the authors
2.1 The authors
of the communications (submitted 12 and 13 October 1998), at the time
of submission, were awaiting execution at one of the prisons in Freetown.
The following 12 of the 18 authors were executed by firing squad on 19
October 1998: Gilbert Samuth Kandu-Bo; Khemalai Idrissa Keita; Tamba Gborie;
Alfred Abu Sankoh (alias Zagalo); Hassan Karim Conteh; Daniel Kobina Anderson;
John Amadu Sonica Conteh; Abu Bakarr Kamara; Abdul Karim Sesay; Kula Samba;
Victor L. King; and Jim Kelly Jalloh.
2.2 The authors
are all members or former members of the armed forces of the Republic
of Sierra Leone. The authors were charged with, inter alia, treason and
failure to suppress a mutiny, were convicted before a court martial in
Freetown, and were sentenced to death on 12 October 1998. (1)
There was no right of appeal.
2.3 On 13 and
14 October 1998, the Committee's Special Rapporteur for New Communications
requested the Government of Sierra Leone, under rule 86 of the Rules of
Procedure, to stay the execution of all the authors while the communications
were under consideration by the Committee.
2.4 On 4 November
1998, the Committee examined the State party's refusal to respect the
rule 86 request by executing 12 of the authors. The Committee deplored
the State party's failure to comply with the Committee's request and decided
to continue the consideration of the communications in question under
the Optional Protocol. (2)
3.1 Counsel submits
that as there is no right of appeal from a conviction by a court martial
the State party has violated article 14, paragraph 5, of the Covenant.
3.2 Counsel states
that a right of appeal did originally exist under Part IV of the Royal
Sierra Leone Military Forces Ordinance 1961, but was revoked in 1971.
The State party's submission
4. The State party has not provided any information in relation to these
communications notwithstanding the Committee's repeated invitation to
and proceedings before the Committee
5.1 By adhering
to the Optional Protocol, a State party to the Covenant recognizes the
competence of the Human Rights Committee to receive and consider communications
from individuals claiming to be victims of violations of any of the rights
set forth in the Covenant (Preamble and article 1). Implicit in a State's
adherence to the Protocol is an undertaking to cooperate with the Committee
in good faith so as to permit and enable it to consider such communications,
and after examination to forward its Views to the State party and to the
individual (article 5 (1), (4)). It is incompatible with these obligations
for a State party to take any action that would prevent or frustrate the
Committee in its consideration and examination of the communication, and
in the expression of its Views.
5.2 Quite apart
from any violation of the rights under the Covenant charged against a
State party in a communication, the State party would be committing a
serious breach of its obligations under the Optional Protocol if it engages
in any acts which have the effect of preventing or frustrating consideration
by the Committee of a communication alleging any violation of the Covenant,
or to render examination by the Committee moot and the expression of its
Views nugatory and futile. In respect of the present communication, counsel
submits that the authors were denied their right under article 14, paragraph
5 of the Covenant. Having been notified of the communication, the State
party breached its obligations under the Protocol, by proceeding to execute
the following alleged victims, Gilbert Samuth Kandu-Bo, Khemalai Idrissa
Keita, Tamba Gborie, Alfred Abu Sankoh (alias Zagalo), Hassan Karim Conteh,
Daniel Kobina Anderson, John Amadu Sonica Conteh, Abu Bakarr Kamara, Abdul
Karim Sesay, Kula Samba, Victor L. King, and Jim Kelly Jalloh, before
the Committee could conclude its examination of the communication, and
the formulation of its Views. It was particularly inexcusable for the
State to do so after the Committee had acted under its Rule 86 requesting
the State party to refrain from doing so.
5.3 Interim measures
pursuant to Rule 86 of the Committee's Rules adopted in conformity with
article 39 of the Covenant, are essential to the Committee's role under
the Optional Protocol. Flouting of the Rule, especially by irreversible
measures such as the execution of the alleged victim or his/her deportation
from the country, undermines the protection of Covenant rights through
the Optional Protocol.
5.4 The Human
Rights Committee has considered the present communications in the light
of all the information made available to it by the parties, as provided
in article 5, paragraph 1, of the Optional Protocol. The Committee notes
with concern that the State party has not provided any information clarifying
the matters raised by these communications. The Committee recalls that
it is implicit in article 4, paragraph 2, of the Optional Protocol, that
a State party examine in good faith all the allegations brought against
it, and that it provide the Committee with all the information at its
disposal. In the light of the failure of the State party to cooperate
with the Committee on the matter before it, due weight must be given to
the authors' allegations, to the extent that they have been substantiated.
5.5 The Committee
has ascertained, as required under article 5, paragraph 2 (a), of the
Optional Protocol, that the same matter is not being examined under another
procedure of international investigation or settlement. The Committee
notes that the State party has not claimed that there are any domestic
remedies yet to be exhausted by the authors and has not raised any other
objection to the admissibility of the claim. On the information before
it, the Committee is of the view that the communication is admissible
and proceeds immediately to a consideration of the merits.
5.6 The Committee
notes the authors' contention that the State party has breached article
14, paragraph 5, of the Covenant in not providing for a right of appeal
from a conviction by a court martial a fortiori in a capital case. The
Committee notes that the State party has neither refuted nor confirmed
the authors' allegation but observes that 12 of the authors were executed
only several days after their conviction. The Committee considers, therefore,
that the State party has violated article 14, paragraph 5, of the Covenant,
and consequently also article 6, which protects the right to life, with
respect to all 18 authors of the communication. The Committee's prior
jurisprudence is clear that under article 6, paragraph 2, of the Covenant
the death penalty can be imposed inter alia only, when all guarantees
of a fair trial including the right to appeal have been observed.
6.1 The Human
Rights Committee, acting under article 5, paragraph 4, of the Optional
Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,
is of the view that the facts as found by the Committee reveal a violation
by Sierra Leone of articles 6 and 14, paragraph 5 of the Covenant.
6.2 The Committee
reiterates its conclusion that the State committed a grave breach of its
obligations under the Optional Protocol by putting 12 of the authors to
death before the Committee had concluded its consideration of the communication.
6.3 In accordance
with article 2, paragraph 3 (a), of the Covenant, the State party is under
an obligation to provide, Anthony Mansaraj, Alpha Saba Kamara, Nelson
Williams, Beresford R. Harleston, Bashiru Conteh and Arnold H. Bangura,
with an effective remedy. These authors were sentenced on the basis of
a trial that failed to provide the basic guarantees of a fair trial. The
Committee considers, therefore, that they should be released unless Sierra
Leonian law provides for the possibility of fresh trials that do offer
all the guarantees required by article 14 of the Covenant. The Committee
also considers that the next of kin of Gilbert Samuth Kandu-Bo, Khemalai
Idrissa Keita, Tamba Gborie, Alfred Abu Sankoh (alias Zagalo), Hassan
Karim Conteh, Daniel Kobina Anderson, John Amadu Sonica Conteh, Abu Bakarr
Kamara, Abdul Karim Sesay, Kula Samba, Victor L. King, and Jim Kelly Jalloh
should be afforded an appropriate remedy which should entail compensation.
6.4 Bearing in
mind that, by becoming a party to the Optional Protocol, the State party
has recognized the competence of the Committee to determine whether there
has been a violation of the Covenant or not and that, pursuant to article
2 of the Covenant, the State party has undertaken to ensure to all individuals
within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized
in the Covenant, and to provide an effective and enforceable remedy in
case a violation has been established, the Committee wishes to receive
from the State party, within 90 days, information about the measures taken
to give effect to the Committee's Views.
* The following members of the Committee participated in the examination
of the present communication: Mr. Abdelfattah Amor, Mr. Nisuke Ando, Mr.
Prafullachandra Natwarlal Bhagwati, Mr. Louis Henkin, Mr. Eckart Klein,
Mr. David Kretzmer, Ms. Cecilia Medina Quiroga, Sir Nigel Rodley, Mr.
Martin Scheinin, Mr. Ivan Shearer, Mr. Ahmed Tawfik Khalil, Mr. Patrick
Vella and Mr. Maxwell Yalden.
[Adopted in English,
French and Spanish, the English text being the original version. Subsequently
to be issued in Arabic, Chinese and Russian as part of the Committee's
annual report to the General Assembly.]
1. This is the only information provided by counsel on the convictions.
2. Vol. 1, A/54/40,
chap. 6, para. 420, annex X.
Morallos and Bulan v. The Philippines (869/1999).