{Application No. 24796/94}
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Region: Africa
Year: 2001
Court: European Court of Human Rights

The applicant lodged the case with the European Commission on Human Rights which transmitted the case to the European Court of Human Rights on 1st November 1998.

On November 25 1992, Pearse Jordan the applicant’s son was shot and killed by an officer identified as Sergeant A from the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).

According to the testimony of four civilian witnesses, there were two unmarked police cars which forced Mr Pearse’s car to the side of the road. Mr. Pearse came out of the car and staggered across the road. Officers followed him and the witnesses stated that they had several gunshots .It was the testimony of the witnesses that they did not hear any warning and that they did not see any weapon on Mr Pearse hands and neither did they see him act in a manner threatening to the officers.

Mr Pearse was shot and when the officers reached him, the witness’s state that they heard them verbally abuse the victim as they pushed his face to the ground (a post mortem report had indicate a bruise on the face)as they kicked him and carried out a search on him.

Sergeant A stated that they believed that Mr. Pearse was in possession of weapons which he was about to supply to a terrorist organization .He further stated that Mr. Pearse had failed to heed to police orders to stop and that on being forced to the side of the road , he had gotten out of the car and started running. The officer further stated that they had ordered him to halt of which he did not and that they could not see his hands and this made them fear that he was armed. In a statement RUC stated that they had not found any weapon or explosives on Mr. Pearse vehicle.

The Director of Public prosecution stated that he did not find any evidence to warrant him to charge any person over the death of the applicant’s son. A coroner’s inquest was opened and which had been going on eight years after the death of Mr. Pearse.

The applicant thus states that there was no justification to kill his son and that the government had failed to carry out proper investigation on the matter and that he had received no redress.

The court found that Mr Pearse had been fatally shot while he was unarmed, an act which was in contravention of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights which guarantees the right to life. The court stated that deprivation of this right as provided for in the Convention shall only be in pursuit of certain specified purposes and shall be no more than “is absolutely necessary for that purpose’.

On the issue of the DPP failing to inform the applicant on the decision not to charge any officer, the court stated that since Mr, Pearse Jordan had been shot while he was unarmed, the situation called for an explanation which the DPP did not give.

The court also took issue with the investigation which as it stated that a fully independent investigation would have helped bring some confidence in the system

The court further criticized two issues in the system, the fact that a person accused of killing cannot be compelled to give evidence, which led to Seargent A not testifying, the other criticism was on the fact that the jury’s mandate was restricted to identifying the dead, in this, the court stated that in other jurisdictions the jury can reach a verdict of ‘wrongful death’. The court stated this verdict by the jury would compel the DPP to give reasons for his failure to prosecute which in turn could be challenged in courts.

Article 6 of the Convention guarantees right to a fair trial, in this the applicant stated that his sons right had been violated by the shoot to kill policy since he had not been given an opportunity to be tried. The court declined to examine the alleged improper motivation of the shooting as a decision of the lawfulness of the shooting was pending before civil courts.

The applicant had alleged that there was an element of disproportionate killings and prosecutions among Catholics in violation of Article 14 of the Convention, the court held that the statistics were insufficient to warrant a finding of discriminatory practice.

The court was of the view that the applicant had already brought civil proceedings and which were pending, and which would provide a proper redress for the wrongful death and thus there was no need to invoke Article 13. The court also found that no separate issue arose in respect of the investigation of the death as the same had been dealt with under the procedural aspect of Article 2.

The court thus found no violation of Articles 6&1, Article 13, Article 14 of the Convention

The court upon finding that Article 2 of the Convention had been violated unanimously awarded 10,000 GBP(Great Britain Sterling Pounds) and costs of 30, 000 GBP(Great Britain Sterling Pounds) and interest.