Anna Koreba v. Belarus
OHCHR - Human Rights Committee
Communication No. 1390/2005
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: articles 2, paragraph 3 (Access to an effective remedy); article 7 (Freedom from torture); article 10, paragraph 2(b) (Separation of accused juvenile persons from adults); article 14, paragraphs 2 (Presumption of innocence), 3(e) (Right to examine witnesses against him), (3)(g) (Not to be compelled to testify against himself or to confess guilt) and 4 (Right of juvenile persons to have their age taken in account in the criminal procedure and the desirability of promoting their rehabilitation).
The author of the communication, Mrs. Anna Koreba, a Belarusian national, submitted the communication on behalf of her son, Mr. Dmitry Koreba, a Belarusian national born on 20 July 1984, who at the time of submission of the communication was serving his sentence in Belarus, after being convicted for murder.
Mrs. Koreba alleged that her son was subjected to beatings, threats and humiliation by officers of the Crime Detection Department, for the purpose of extracting a confession from him. She also claimed that, despite the fact that at the time of his arrest and conviction her son was 17 years old, he was kept for 11 days in a temporary detention ward with adults, some of whom had committed serious crimes, and interrogated in the absence of his lawyer, legal representative or a social worker. She furthermore claimed that her son’s trial was unfair and that his guilt had not been established.
Although Mrs. Koreba did not claim a violation by Belarus of any specific provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Committee found that the communication appeared to raise issues under article 2 (access to an effective remedy); article 7 (freedom from torture); article 10 (separation of accused juvenile persons from adults); article 14 (presumption of innocence and administration of Justice), of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights (‘The Covenant’).
The Committee was of the view that the facts before it disclosed a violation by the State party of all the articles stated above. For instance, regarding the beatings, threats and humiliation by officers of the Crime Detection Department, for the purpose of extracting a confession from the author’s son, the Committee recalled that once a complaint about treatment contrary to article 7 has been filed, a State party must investigate it promptly and impartially. The Committee considered that the information contained in the file did not demonstrate that the State party's competent authorities gave due consideration to the alleged victim's complaints of ill-treatment made both during the pre-trial investigation and in court. The Committee furthermore, recalled its jurisprudence that the wording, in article 14, paragraph 3(g), that no one shall "be compelled to testify against himself or confess guilt", must be understood in terms of the absence of any direct or indirect physical or psychological coercion by the investigating authorities on the accused with a view to obtaining a confession of guilt. In cases of forced confessions, the burden is on the State to prove that statements made by the accused have been given of their own free will. In the circumstances, and in the absence of sufficient information in the State party’s response about the measures taken by the authorities to investigate the claims made by the author’s son, the Committee concluded that the facts before it amounted to a violation of article 2, paragraph 3, read in conjunction with articles 7 and 14, paragraph 3 (g), of the Covenant.
The Committee also recalled that accused juvenile persons are to be separated from adults and to enjoy at least the same guarantees and protection as those accorded to adults under article 14 of the Covenant. It also stated that juveniles need special protection in criminal proceedings. They should, in particular, be informed directly of the charges against them and, if appropriate, through their parents or legal guardians, be provided with appropriate assistance in the preparation and presentation of their defense. In the present case, the Committee found that the Dmitry Koreba was not separated from adults and did not benefit from the special guarantees prescribed for criminal investigation of juveniles. It concluded that the rights of the author’s son under article 10, paragraph 2(b), and article 14, paragraph 4, of the Covenant had been violated.
The Committee was finally of the view that the Dmitri Koreba did not benefit from the principle of presumption of innocence, in violation of article 14, paragraph 2, of the Covenant.
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