Perterer v Austria, UN Human Rights Committee (2001) (excerpts)

Perterer v Austria, UN Human Rights Committee Communication 1015/2001 (excerpts)


9.2 With regard to the State party's objection ratione materiae, the Committee recalls that the concept of a "suit at law" under article 14, paragraph 1, is based on the nature of the right in question rather than on the status of one of the parties. (15) The imposition of disciplinary measures taken against civil servants does not of itself necessarily constitute a determination of one's rights and obligations in a suit at law, nor does it, except in cases of sanctions that, regardless of their qualification in domestic law, are penal in nature, amount to a determination of a criminal charge within the meaning of the second sentence of article 14, paragraph 1. In the present case, the State party has conceded that the trial senate of the Disciplinary Commission was a tribunal within the meaning of article 14, paragraph 1, of the Covenant. While the decision on a disciplinary dismissal does not need to be determined by a court or tribunal, the Committee considers that whenever, as in the present case, a judicial body is entrusted with the task of deciding on the imposition of disciplinary measures, it must respect the guarantee of equality of all persons before the courts and tribunals as enshrined in article 14, paragraph 1, and the principles of impartiality, fairness and equality of arms implicit in this guarantee. Consequently, the Committee declares the communication admissible ratione materiae insofar as the author claims to be a victim of violations of his rights under article 14, paragraph 1, of the Covenant.