Puertas v Spain, UN Human Rights Committee (2003) (excerpts)

Puertas v Spain, HRC Communication 1183/2003 (excerpts)

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6.4 The Committee notes that article 14, paragraph 1, of the Covenant does not oblige States parties to provide avenues for redress in respect of judgements relating to the determination of civil rights and obligations. However, the Committee considers that if a State party provides for such redress, the guarantees of a fair trial implicit in the article must be respected in that process. The Committee recalls its case law to the effect that the concept of a fair trial within the meaning of article 14, paragraph 1, of the Covenant also includes other elements, including respect for the principles of "equality of arms" and the right to adversarial proceedings. The Committee takes note of the author's complaint that, while his appeal for unification of doctrine was being processed, he was not informed of the opinion issued by the Public Prosecutor's Office opposing the granting of the appeal, which prevented him from commenting thereon. It also takes note of the author's assertion that his complaint is identical to the one in the Lobo Machado case, which secured a favourable ruling from the European Court of Human Rights. However, the Committee notes that the author did not challenge the intervention of the Public Prosecutor's Office before the Supreme Court; that the Public Prosecutor's Office did not act in the author's case as an interested party, but rather to uphold the due process of law and protect the public interest; that its opinion was not binding on the Court; that there is nothing in the Court's ruling that might imply that it was influenced by the opinion of the Public Prosecutor's Office; and that, in contrast to the precedent invoked by the author, the Public Prosecutor's Office did not participate in the Court's deliberations. The Committee also notes that the procedure for requesting an opinion from the Public Prosecutor's Office is provided for in article 224 of the Labour Procedure Act. Nothing in the information submitted to the Committee indicates that there are any legal obstacles that prevent the appellant from gaining access to the opinion. In the present case there is no indication that the author had attempted to ascertain the contents of the opinion before the Supreme Court decided on the inadmissibility of the appeal, or that he had brought a complaint before the Court concerning the lack of access to the opinion. The Committee further notes that the author had the opportunity to comment on the admissibility of the appeal for unification of doctrine, and that he also had ample scope for expressing his views during the proceedings. Accordingly, the Committee considers that the author has not sufficiently substantiated this part of the communication, for the purpose of admissibility, and therefore considers it to be inadmissible under article 2 of the Optional Protocol.