REPORT Nļ 48/02
On January 12, 2001, the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights (the ďCommissionĒ) received a petition from the London,
United Kingdom law firm of Lovells (the ďPetitionersĒ) against the
Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (ďTrinidad and TobagoĒ or ďthe
StateĒ) on behalf of Arnold Ramlogan, a death row inmate in the
Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
The petition alleged that the State tried and convicted Mr.
Ramlogan under Trinidad and Tobagoís Offences
Against the Person Act
for the April 1, 1996 murder of Basdeo Baboolal and sentenced him to the
mandatory death penalty by hanging on March 4, 1999. The petition also alleged that the State is responsible for
violating Mr. Ram Loganís rights under Articles I and XXVI of the
American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man (the ďAmerican
DeclarationĒ or the ďDeclarationĒ) and Articles 4, 5, and 8 of the
American Convention on Human Rights in connection with the criminal
proceedings against him. These
include allegations that Mr. Ramlogan was subjected to a mandatory death
sentence, that he has been subjected to inhumane treatment and
conditions while in detention, and that he was provided with inadequate
legal representations during the course of his legal proceedings.
As of the date of this report, the Commission had not received
any information or observations from the State regarding Mr. Ram
4. As set forth in this report, having examined the contentions of the Petitioners on the question of admissibility, and without prejudging the merits of the matter, the Commission has decided to admit the claims in Mr. Ram Loganís petition in respect of Articles 1, 2, 4, 5 and 8 of the American Convention and continue with the analysis of the merits of the case.
II. PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE COMMISSION
Petitions and Observations
Following receipt of Mr. Ram Loganís petition, the Commission
transmitted the pertinent parts of the petition to the State by note
dated January 22, 2001. The
Commission requested the Stateís
observations on the petition within 90 days as established in the
Commissionís former Regulations.
As of the date of this report, the Commission had not received
response from the State to the Commissionís request for information
regarding Mr. Ram Loganís petition.
B. Precautionary Measures
Contemporaneously with the transmission of the pertinent parts of
Mr. Ram Loganís petition to the State, the Commission requested the
State to take precautionary measures pursuant to Article 29 of the
Commissionís former Regulations to stay Mr. Ram Loganís execution
pending the Commissionís investigation of the allegations in his
complaint. This request was
made on the basis that if the State executed Mr. Ramlogan before the
Commission had an opportunity to examine his complaint, any eventual
decision would be rendered moot in terms of available remedies and Mr.
Ramlogan would suffer irreparable harm.
The Commission did not receive a response from the State to its
request for precautionary measures.
C. Provisional Measures
In light of the absence of any response from the State to the
Commissionís request for precautionary measures, by application dated
October 18, 2001 the Commission requested pursuant to Article 63(2) of
the American Convention and Article 25 of the Rules of Procedure of the
Inter-American Court of Human Rights (hereinafter ďthe CourtĒ) that
the Court amplify its provisional measures in the James et
al. Case to encompass Mr. Ramlogan and four other alleged victims
with petitions before the Commission.
On October 25, 2001, the President of the Inter-American Court
decided to order Trinidad and Tobago to take all necessary measures to
preserve the life of Mr. Ramlogan so that the Court could examine during
its LIII Regular Session the pertinence of the Commissionís request.
Subsequently, by Order dated November 21, 2001, the
Inter-American Court during its LIII Regular Session decided to ratify
the Presidentís Order dated October 25, 2001 and to require Trinidad
and Tobago to adopt all measures necessary to preserve the life and
personal integrity of Mr. Ramlogan so as not to hinder the processing of
his case before the Inter-American system for the protection of human
POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES
Position of the Petitioners
Background to the Complaints
According to the petition, Mr. Ramlogan was arrested and detained
at Iere Village, Princes Town in the County of Victoria, Trinidad and
Tobago on April 2, 1996, for the April 1, 1996 murder of Basdeo Baboolal.
Mr. Ramlogan was committed for trial on April 9, 1996 and his trial
commenced on January 5, 1999 before the Lord Justice Moosai and a jury
in the Fifth Criminal Court, Port of Spain Assizes, in Port of Spain,
Trinidad. For most of the
trial, Mr. Ramlogan was represented by Mr. El Farouk Hosein. On March 4, 1999, the jury found Mr. Ramlogan guilty of the
murder of Basdeo Baboolal and the judge sentenced him to the mandatory
death penalty on the same date.
Mr. Ramlogan petitioned for leave to appeal against his
conviction to the Court of Appeal of the Republic of Trinidad and
Tobago, and the Court of Appeal dismissed his application for leave on
February 4, 2000. Mr.
Ramlogan subsequently petitioned the Judicial Committee of the Privy
Council for Special Leave to Appeal as a Poor Person from the judgment
of the Court of Appeal, which dismissed his petition on November 15,
During Mr. Ram Loganís trial, the prosecution alleged that on
April 1, 1996, Mr. Ramlogan was one of four persons in a car stopped by
Police Constable Pittiman, who was on uniformed foot patrol with the
deceased, Corporal Basdeo Baboolal.
Upon searching the car on Mr. Baboolalís instruction, Constable
Pittiman found a ski mask and what felt like a gun on Mr. Ramlogan.
Mr. Ramlogan then pulled a gun, which led to a struggle between
him and Constable Pittiman, in the course of which Corporal Baboolal was
shot and later pronounced dead. Mr.
Ramlogan was subsequently cautioned and questioned by the police at his
residence, where Mr. Ramlogan made certain potentially incriminating
statements. In addition, a
gun and 11 rounds of ammunition were recovered from some bushes in a
vacant lot next to Mr. Ram Loganís residence. Mr. Ramlogan later gave
two written statements to the police, the first of which contained
potentially incriminating statements and the second of which retracted
what he had said in the first statement.
Petitionersí Position on Competence
13. With regard to the Commissionsí competence to consider Mr. Ram Loganís complaint, the Petitioners indicated that they are aware that Trinidad and Tobago denounced the Convention with effect from May 29, 1999. They contend, however, that notwithstanding the denunciation, Article 78(2) of the Convention is applicable to Mr. Ram Loganís complaint as the alleged violations took place before the effective date of the denunciation. More specifically, the Petitioners note that according to Article 78(2), Trinidad and Tobagoís denunciation does not have the effect of releasing it from its obligations with respect to acts occurring prior to the effective date of the denunciation which may constitute a violation of the Convention. The Petitioners therefore submit that Trinidad continues to be bound by the provisions of the Convention.
14. In the alternative, the Petitioners contend that Trinidad remains a party to the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man pursuant to Article 51 of the Commissionís Statute. Therefore, even in the event that it is not accepted that Trinidad is bound by the terms of the Convention, the Petitioners asked that the petition be considered with reference to the articles of the Declaration.
Petitionersí Position on Admissibility
15. In relation to the admissibility of their complaints, the Petitioners indicate that Mr. Ramlogan appealed his conviction to the Trinidad and Tobago Court of Appeal, which dismissed his appeal on February 4, 2000. He subsequently sought Special Leave to Appeal as a Poor Person to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, the highest appellate body in Trinidad and Tobago, which denied his petition on November 15, 2000. On this basis, the Petitioners contend that Mr. Ramlogan has exhausted all of remedies available to him under the laws of Trinidad and Tobago.
16. In addition, the Petitioners claim that the subject matter of Mr. Ram Loganís complaint has not been submitted for examination under any other procedure of international investigation or settlement.
Petitionersí Position on the Merits
17. Insofar as it is pertinent to evaluating the admissibility of the present petition, the Commission notes that the Petitioners have presented the following claims:
the State is responsible for violating Articles 4(1), 5(1), 5(2)
and 8(1) of the American Convention relating to the mandatory death
penalty imposed upon Mr. Ramlogan.
In particular, the Petitioners argue that the law in Trinidad and
Tobago does not permit a hearing by a court as to whether the death
penalty was a permissible or appropriate penalty for the alleged victim
in light of such factors as Mr. Ram Loganís record and character and
other mitigating factors. Rather,
the sentence was based solely on the category of crime for which he was
the State is responsible for violating Article I of the American
Declaration and Articles 5(1) and 5(2) of the American Convention, based
upon Mr. Ram Loganís treatment while in detention and his conditions
of detention. Specifically,
the petitioners allege that Mr. Ramlogan was the victim of violence on a
number of occasions allegedly at the hands of police and prison
officials, including at the time of his arrest on April 2, 1996.
The Petitioners also allege that the conditions in which Mr.
Ramlogan has been held since he was arrested have been unsanitary,
unhygienic and in violation of minimum standards of humane treatment;
the State is responsible for violating Article XXVI of the
American Declaration and Article 8(2) of the American Convention, on the
basis that Mr. Ramlogan was given insufficient opportunity to instruct
the lawyers that had been appointed for him and that due to these
circumstances he has been unable to prepare his defense.
The Petitioners also allege in this connection that Mr. Ramlogan
was not informed of his right to a lawyer when he was placed in custody
following his arrest, was compelled to sign a statement, and had only 15
to 20 minutes to confer with his lawyer prior to his trial.
Position of the State
As indicated above, the Commission transmitted the pertinent
parts of Mr. Ram Loganís petition on January 22, 2001, with a request
that the State provide information relevant to the Petitionersí
complaint within 90 days. Despite
these requests, as of the date of this report, the Commission had not
received any information or observations from the State concerning the
claims in Mr. Ram Loganís petition.
Competence of the Commission
19. The Republic of
Trinidad and Tobago became a party to the American Convention on Human
Rights when it deposited its instrument of ratification of that treaty
on May 28, 1991.
Trinidad and Tobago
subsequently denounced the American Convention by notice given one year
in advance on May 26, 1998 in accordance with Article 78 of the American
Convention on Human Rights, which provides as follows:
The States Parties may denounce this Convention at the expiration
of a five-year period from the date of its entry into force and by means
of notice given one year in advance.
Notice of the denunciation shall be addressed to the Secretary
General of the Organization, who shall inform the other States Parties.
(2) Such a denunciation shall not have the effect of releasing the State
Party concerned from the obligations contained in this Convention with
respect to any act that may constitute a violation of those obligations
and that has been taken by that state prior to the effective date of
20. As concluded by the Commission on previous occasions, by the plain terms of Article 78(2), States Parties to the American Convention have agreed that a denunciation of that treaty taken by any of them will not release the denouncing state from its obligations under the Convention with respect to acts taken by that state prior to the effective date of the denunciation that may constitute a violation of those obligations. A state partyís obligations under the Convention encompass not only those provisions of the Convention relating to the substantive rights and freedoms guaranteed thereunder . They also encompass the Conventionís supervisory mechanisms, including those under Chapter VII relating to the jurisdiction, functions and powers of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Notwithstanding Trinidad and Tobagoís denunciation of the Convention, therefore, the Commission will retain jurisdiction over complaints of violations of the Convention by Trinidad and Tobago in respect of acts taken by that State prior to May 26, 1999. Consistent with established jurisprudence, this includes acts taken by the State prior to May 26, 1999, even if the effects of those acts continue or are not manifested until after that date.
21. In respect of acts taken by the State wholly after May 26, 1999, the State remains bound by the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and the Commissionís authority to supervise the Stateís compliance with that instrument, having deposited its instrument of ratification of the OAS Charter on March 17, 1967 and thereby becoming an OAS member state.
In the present case, the facts alleged, if true, indicate that a
preponderance of the events complained of by Mr. Ramlogan occurred
wholly prior to May 26, 1999. Other events may have occurred prior to May 26, 1999 but
continued or had their effects manifested after that date. None of the
facts alleged appear to have occurred wholly after the effective date of
Trinidadís denunciation. These
circumstances therefore indicate that the State remains fully bound by
the Convention in respect of the claims contained in Mr. Ram Loganís
petition, relating to Articles 4, 5, and 8 of the American Convention.
Article 46(1)(c) of the American Convention and Article 33(1) of
the Commissionís Rules of Procedure provide that the Commission shall
not consider a petition if its subject matter is pending settlement
pursuant to another procedure before an international governmental
organization of which the State concerned is a member, or if it
essentially duplicates a petition pending or already examined and
settled by the Commission or by another international governmental
organization of which the State concerned is a member.
24. The Petitioners for Mr. Ramlogan have indicated that the claims raised in his complaint have not been submitted for examination by any other procedure of international investigation or settlement. The State has not contested the issue of duplication. The Commission therefore finds no bar to consideration of Mr. Ram Loganís claims under Article 46(1)(c) of the American Convention or Article 33(1) of the Commissionís Rules of Procedure.
Exhaustion of Domestic Remedies
Article 46(1)(a) of the Convention and Article 31(1) of the
Commissionís Rules of Procedure specify that, in order for a case to
be admitted, remedies of the domestic legal system must have been
pursued and exhausted in accordance with the generally accepted
principles of international law. The
jurisprudence of the inter-American system makes clear, however, that
the rule which requires the prior exhaustion of domestic remedies is
designed for the benefit of the State, because the rule seeks to excuse
the State from having to respond to charges before an international body
for acts imputed to it before it has had an opportunity to remedy them
by internal means. According to the Inter-American Court, the requirement is
thus considered a means of defense and, as such, waivable, even tacitly.
Further, a waiver, once effected, is irrevocable. In the face of such a waiver,
the Commission is not obliged to consider any potential bars to the
admissibility of a petitionerís claims that might have properly been
raised by a state relating to the exhaustion of domestic remedies.
26. In the present case, the State has failed to provide any observations or information respecting the admissibility of the alleged victimsí claims. The Commission therefore finds that the State has implicitly or tacitly waived its right to object to the admissibility of the claims in the petition based upon the exhaustion of domestic remedies requirement. Accordingly, the Commission finds that the Petitionersí claims are not barred under Article 46(1)(a) of the Convention or Article 31(1) of its Rules of Procedure.
Timeliness of the Petition
27 In accordance
with Article 46(1)(b) of the Convention and Article 32(1) of the
Commissionís Rules of Procedure, the Commission shall consider those
petitions that are lodged within a period of six months from the date on
which the complaining party was notified of the final judgment at the
28. In the instant
case, the Commission has established that the Republic of Trinidad and
Tobago waived its right to argue that domestic remedies were not
exhausted, and so the requirement contained in Article 46(1)(a) of the
American Convention and Article 31(1) of the Commissionís Rules does
not apply. However, the
requirement that domestic remedies be exhausted is independent of the
requirement that a petition be lodged within six months following the
judgment exhausting domestic remedies.
The Commission must therefore decide whether Mr. Ram Loganís
petition was timely filed. In
this regard, the Commission notes that the Judicial Committee of the
Privy Council dismissed Mr. Ram Loganís petition for Special Leave to
Appeal on November 15, 2000, and that Mr. Ram Loganís petition was
lodged with the Commission on January 12, 2001.
The Commission therefore finds that Mr. Ram Loganís petition
was submitted in a timely manner.
4. Colorable Claim
29. Article 47(b)
of the Convention and Article 34(a) of the Commissionís Rules of
Procedure require a petition to be declared inadmissible if it does not
state facts that tend to establish a violation of the rights guaranteed
by the Convention or other applicable instruments.
Article 47(d) of the Convention and Article 34(b) of the
Commissionís Rules of Procedure deem inadmissible any communication
where the statements of the petitioner or the State indicate that the
petition is manifestly groundless or out of order.
30. The Petitioners in the present complaints have alleged that the State has violated Mr. Ram Loganís rights under Articles 4, 5, and 8 of the American Convention. Based upon the information provided by the Petitioners, as summarized in Part III of this report, and without prejudging the merits of the matter, the Commission finds that the Petitionersí petition contains factual allegations that, if proved, tend to establish violations of the rights guaranteed by the American Convention, and that the statements of the Petitioners are not on the information provided manifestly groundless or out of order. Consequently the claims in the petition are not barred under Article 47(b) and 47(c) of the Convention and Article 34 (a) and (b) of the Commissionís Rules of Procedure.
In addition, while they were not alleged by the Petitioners in
their complaint, by virtue of the general principle of law iura
the Commission finds that the circumstances alleged in the petition
also tend to establish violations of Articles 1 and 2 of the American
The Commission concludes that it has the competence to examine
Mr. Ram Loganís complaint, and that the claims in his petition are
admissible in accordance with Articles 46 and 47 of the Convention and
Articles 31 to 34 of the Commissionís Rules of Procedure.
33. On the basis of
the findings of fact and law set forth above, and without prejudging the
merits of the matters,
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS,
1. To declare
admissible the claims of Mr. Ramlogan in respect of Articles 1, 2, 4, 5,
and 8 of the American Convention.
2. To give notice
of this decision to the State and to the Petitioners.
3. To continue
with the analysis of the merits of the case.
4. To publish this
Report and include it in the Annual Report to the OAS General Assembly.
and signed at the headquarters of the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights, in the city of Washington, D.C., on the 9th day of
the month of October, 2002. (Signed):
Juan E. Mťndez, President; Marta Altolaguirre, First Vice-President; Josť
Zalaquett, Second Vice-President; Robert K. Goldman, Julio Prado Vallejo,
Clare K. Roberts and Susana VillarŠn, Commissioners.
Against the Person Act, (3 April 1925), Laws of Trinidad and Tobago,
Ch. 11:08. Section 4 of the Act prescribes the death penalty as the
mandatory punishment for the crime of murder, providing that "[e]very
person convicted of murder shall suffer death."
During its 109th special session in December 2000,
the Commission approved the Rules of Procedure of the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights, which replaced the Commissionís prior
Regulations of April 8, 1980. Pursuant to Article 78 of the
Commissionís Rules of Procedure, the Rules entered into force on
May 1, 2001.
Documents Pertaining to Human Rights in the Inter-American System,
OEA/Ser.L/I.4 rev.8 (22 May 2001), p. 48.
See e.g. Case 12.342, Report Nļ 89/01, Balkissoon Roodal v.
Trinidad and Tobago, Annual Report of the IACHR 2001, para. 23.
Court H.R., Baruch Ivcher Bronstein v. Peru, Jurisdiction, Judgment
of September 24, 1999, Ser. C Nļ 54, para. 37 (noting that the
obligations of States Parties to the American Convention on Human
Rights to guarantee compliance with its provisions applies both to
the substantive and procedural norms under the treaty).
 According to the jurisprudence of the inter-American system and that of other international human rights tribunals, human rights instruments may properly be applied in respect of acts that arose prior to the ratification of those instruments but which are continuing in nature and whose effects persist after the instrumentsí entry into force. See e.g. IACHR, Jo„o Canuto de Oliveira v. Brazil, Report Nļ 24/98, Annual Report of the IACHR 1997, paras. 13-18. See similarly Eur. Court H.R., Papamichalopoulos et al. v. Greece, June 24, 1993, Series A Nļ 260-B, pp. 69-70, 46. Moreover, in the case of a denunciation of the Convention, Article 78(2) explicitly provides the Convention with continuing application beyond the effective date of the denunciation in relation to potentially violative acts taken before that date.
Article 20 of
the Statute of the IACHR provides that, in respect of those OAS
member states that are not parties to the American Convention on
Human Rights, the Commission may examine communications submitted to
it and any other available information, to address the government of
such states for information deemed pertinent by the Commission, and
to make recommendations to such states, when it finds this
appropriate, in order to bring about more effective observance of
fundamental human rights. See
also I/A Court H.R., 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, Ser. A
Nļ 10 (1989), paras. 35-45;
I/A Comm. H.R., James Terry Roach and Jay Pinkerton v. United
States, Case 9647, Res. 3/87, 22 September 1987, Annual Report
1986-87, paras. 46-49.
H.R., Loayza Tamayo Case, Preliminary Objections, Judgment of
January 31, 1996, Series C Nļ 25, para. 40.
I/A Court H.R., Hilaire, Constantine and Benjamin et
al. v. Trinidad and Tobago, Judgment of June 21, 2002, para.