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 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
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 prison.
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 inadmissible.
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
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,
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 unlawful.
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
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 sentence.
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
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 petition.
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
The State has not contested the admissibility of the petition on
the ground of timeliness or otherwise demonstrated that the petition was
not timely filed.
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
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
To declare the violations of the Declaration alleged in the
To transmit this report to the State of Grenada and to the
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
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
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 is taken.
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
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
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.