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Emelysifa Jessop v. New Zealand

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Emelysifa Jessop v. New Zealand

Court/Judicial Body:
OHCHR – Human Rights Committee

Communication No. 1758/2008


Instruments Cited:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: articles 2, paragraph 3 (enjoyment for all and access to remedies); 9, paragraph 1 and 3 (liberty and security of persons), article 10, paragraph 2 (b) and 3 (right of detained persons to humane treatment); article 14, paragraphs 1, 2, 3(a), 3(b), 3(c), 3(d), 3(e), 3(g), 4 and 5 (right to a fair trial); article 16 (recognition as a person before the law), article 17 (right to privacy), article 24 (protection of the rights of the child) and article 26 (equality before the law).

The author of the communication, Ms. Emelysifa Jessop was aged 15 when she was convicted for aggravated robbery and sentenced to 4 years imprisonment. Ms. Jessop, who was six months pregnant at the time of the sentence, always maintained her innocence. She claimed that she was detained arbitrarily upon arrest, while she was intoxicated with alcohol, for the purpose of a police identity parade, shortly after the crime had taken place. She further claimed that her rights under the following articles of the Covenant were violated by the State party: article 2 (enjoyment for all and access to remedies), article 9 (liberty and security of persons), article 10 (right of detained persons to humane treatment), article 14 (right to a faire trial), article 16 (recognition as a person before the law), article 17 (right to privacy), article 24 (protection of the rights of the child) and article 26 (equality before the law).

In this communication, the Committee found that most of the claims were inadmissible. It considered only some of the issues on the merits but didn’t find any violation of the Covenant.

Ms. Emelysifa Jessop alleged, in particular, that the State party’s police authorities arbitrarily detained her for the purpose of unlawful criminal investigations, up until the time she was formally charged and arrested. According to her allegations, the police did not contact her parents to provide consent on her behalf for the police parade. Ms. Jessop further claimed that once in the police station, the police failed to ensure that she adequately understood her right and need to consult with a lawyer. Considering this claim under articles 9, 10 and 14 of the Covenant, the Committee observed that from the moment of the identification parade, until the end of the second video interview, in which she confessed guilt, Ms. Jessop was neither formally arrested, nor detained. It appeared from the file that after the identification, by a witness of the author, she was transported to the police station, and was informed of her right not to accompany the detective, her right to leave at any time, and her right to a lawyer. Her rights were again explained to her upon the arrival of her mother at the police station, and at the commencement of each of the two interviews. The Committee found consequently that it couldn’t be sustained that Ms. Jessop was arrested, detained, or otherwise deprived of her liberty, or that she was subjected to criminal proceedings at this time, as she had not been charged yet at this point. It concluded that her claims were inadmissible, ratione materiae under article 3 of the Optional Protocol.

Ms. Jessop furthermore contended that she was compelled to confess guilt to a crime she did not commit, due to pressure exerted by the police, her mother acting as support person, and the lack of safeguards in respect to her vulnerability as a child. She explained that she initially adamantly denied her involvement in the offence, but was later implicated by the co-offender during a statement to the police. Her statement, prior to the confession, “I am going to lie now” was ignored by the police and her own mother, who was scared of the police. Consequently, she claimed that the admission of her confession in the trial was in violation of her rights under article 14, paragraph 3 (g) of the Covenant. However, the Committee considered that this claim related to the evaluation of facts and evidence by the State party’s courts. It noted that the admissibility of the author’s confession as trial evidence, was thoroughly discussed, and dismissed in fact and in law by the State’s courts. The Committee recalled that it is generally for the courts of States parties to evaluate facts and evidence in a particular case, unless it can be ascertained that the evaluation was clearly arbitrary or amounted to a denial of justice. The material before the Committee did not reveal elements susceptible of demonstrating that the court examination of this issue suffered from any such defect. The Committee thus declared this part of the communication inadmissible under article 2 of the Optional Protocol.

The Human rights Committee considered that most of the other claims were inadmissible for the reason that domestic courts had already remedied some of them and because the author failed to substantiate the others.

Considering that the remaining issues were sufficiently substantiated, the Committee proceeded to the examination of the merits. It decided nevertheless that the facts before it did not reveal a breach of any provision of the Covenant. For instance, with respect to Ms. Jessop’s allegations of delay in the proceedings, while recalling that juveniles are to enjoy at least the same guarantees and protection as those accorded to adults under article 14 of the Covenant, the Committee couldn’t find any violation of the Covenant. 

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