(Communication No.611/1995, U.N.Doc. CCPR/C/63/D/611/1995 (3 AUGUST 1998)
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Region: Africa
Year: 1998
Court: Human Rights Committee

The author and three co-defendants were on 25 April 1990 convicted and sentenced for of murder of one Elijah McLean which happened on 24 January 1989. The author gave notice of application for leave to appeal on 12 may 1990 and on 16 March 1992 the court of Appeal dismissed the appeals of the four defendants which dismissal was based on discrepancies in the evidence and improper instructions by the judge to the jury. The enactment of the Offences Against the Persons (Amendment) Act 1992 classified the offence of murder which the author had been convicted of as a capital offence.  The author did not petition the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council for special leave to appeal because he was advised that there was no likelihood of his appeal being successful as that of his co-defendant Byron Young had been dismissed. In addition to this, the leading counsel’s advice in the author’s case that there were no grounds upon which an appeal to the Privy Council would be successful was not put in writing.

The author claimed that his detention on death row for over six years amounted to cruelty, inhuman and degrading treatment contrary to the covenant. The court of appeal took 22 months to decide on his appeal while he was still detained in St. Catherine District Prison under inhumane conditions.

The Committee decided that the communication was inadmissible. It observed that the author had not filed a petition for special leave to appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council since the case of his co-defendant was dismissed. The committee considered that there would be no merit in the author filing the petition and therefore communicating to it was not a recourse he needed to pursue.