Christine Chanet (France)
Mr. Maurice Glele Ahanhanzo (Benin), Ms. Elisabeth Palm (Sweden),
Mr. Hipolito Solari Yrigoyen (Argentina)
RAPPORTEUR: Mr. Ivan
Abdelfattah Amor (Tunisia), Mr. Mr. Nisuke Ando (Japan), Mr.
Prafullachandra Natwarlal Bhagwati (India), Alfredo Castillero Hoyos
(Panama), Mr. Edwin Johnson Lopez (Ecuador), Mr. Walter Kalin
(Switzerland), Mr. Ahmed Tawfik Khalil (Egypt), Mr. Rajsoomer Lallah
(Mauritius), Mr. Michael O’Flaherty (Ireland), Mr. Rafael Rivas
Posada (Colombia), Sir Nigel Rodley (United Kingdom), Ms. Ruth
Wedgwood (United States), Mr. Roman Wieruszewski (Poland)
Sopanen v. Finland, Comm. 1076/2002, U.N. Doc. A/60/40, Vol. II, at
118 (HRC 2005)
the Human Rights Committee, U.N. GAOR, 60th Sess., Supp. No. 40,
U.N. Doc. A/60/40, Annex V, sect. N, at 118 (Oct. 3, 2005)
1. The authors of the
communication are Riitta-Liisa Kasper and Illka Olavi Sopanen, both Finnish
nationals. They claim to be victims of a violation of articles 2, paragraph
1, 3, 14, paragraph 1, and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights. They are represented by counsel, Mr. Martti Tapio Juvonen.
2.1 On 26 March 1987, the Council of State authorized the expropriation of
part of the authors' lands (covering 65.97 hectares). The expropriated area
forms part of the larger area of Linnansaari National Park On 18 February
1988, the Expropriation Commission issued an expropriation order and defined
the amount to be paid.
2.2 The authors state that their lands were expropriated by the Government
at a price considerably below the current price in comparison with voluntary
purchases and other expropriations in the region.
2.3 The authors' appeal against this decision was rejected by the Court of
Eastern Finland on 20 September 1989. The Land Court did not revise the
amount of compensation. On 4 May 1990, the Supreme Court rejected the
authors leave to appeal.
2.4 A petition for reversal was then lodged with the Supreme Court. The
Supreme Court heard the petition and by decision of 1 December 1993 held
that the authors had not been able to invoke new facts or evidence likely to
lead to another outcome and therefore dismissed the application. With this,
all domestic remedies are said to have been exhausted.
2.5 The authors state that while considering their petition, the Supreme
Court asked the National Board of Survey for an opinion in the matter. The
Board's opinion concluded that the authors had not received equal treatment
in comparison with expropriations in the same region for the same purpose.
Nevertheless, the Supreme Court dismissed the authors' appeal.
2.6 The authors further state that the Supreme Court's judgement does not
disclose the names of the judges who participated in the decision making,
making it impossible to consider any grounds for disqualifying them.
2.7 The authors' application to the European Commission of Human Rights was
declared inadmissible ratione temporis on 29 February 1996.
3. The authors argue that their rights under articles 2, paragraph 1, 3, and
26 of the Covenant have been violated because they did not receive equal
treatment in relation to the compensation paid for expropriated land
property. They also claim to be victims of a violation of article 14,
paragraph 1, of the Covenant, because of the failure of the Supreme Court to
disclose the names of the judges participating in the decision on their
STATE PARTY'S SUBMISSIONS ON THE ADMISSIBILITY AND MERITS OF THE
4.1 By submission of 23 July 2002, the State party challenges the
admissibility of the communication. The State party argues that the Supreme
Court's decision of 4 May 1990, rejecting the authors' request for leave to
appeal, is the final decision in the case. It notes that the reversal
procedure initiated by the authors and leading to the Supreme Court's
decision of 1 December 1993 is an extraordinary appeal. The State party
observes that thus seven years had passed since domestic remedies were
exhausted before the authors presented their case to the Human Rights
4.2 The State party notes that the Optional Protocol does not include a
special time limit for the presentation of communications to the Committee.
Nevertheless, the State party argues that the length of time which has
passed since the issue of the final national decision should be taken into
account when determining the admissibility of a communication.
4.3 The State party further argues that, to the extent that the authors
intend to complain about interference with their right to property, the
communication is inadmissible ratione materiae.
5.1 By submission of 25 November 2002, the State party raises an additional
objection to the admissibility of the authors' claim under article 14 of the
Covenant. The State party argues that this claim is inadmissible as
incompatible with the provisions of the Covenant, as the Covenant does not
contain a right to the review of a judgement in a civil case nor any right
to extraordinary appeal.
5.2 As to the merits of the communication, the State party refers to the
legal provisions regulating expropriation of immovable property and its
compensation. The Act on the Expropriation of Immovable Property and Special
Rights (603/1977) provides that a property owner is entitled to full
compensation for the financial losses caused by the expropriation (section
29 of the Act). Section 30(1) of the Act provides: "Full compensation,
corresponding to the market value, shall be determined for the expropriated
property. The moment of property transfer shall be decisive for the
determination of this value. If the market value does not reflect the real
loss suffered by the owner of the property or any related right, the
assessment shall be based on the returns from the property or the
investments in it."
5.3 The State party argues that as a result of these provisions, the value
of different properties may vary even if they are situated close to each
other, depending on their characteristics and their suitability for
recreational use. The assessment of the value shall normally be based on
reliable statistical evidence on the prices normally paid for comparable
pieces of land.
5.4 With regard to the authors' claim under article 14, paragraph 1, of the
Covenant, the State party notes that the present case concerned a request
for reversal of judgement, requiring new and important evidence. The State
party notes that the authors have not claimed that they had no possibility
to submit all the evidence. The Supreme Court, after having evaluated all
evidence before it, concluded that there were no new circumstances or
evidence presented by the authors that would likely have led to a different
result. As a consequence the Supreme Court did not reverse the judgement.
The State party observes that the fact that the outcome was not what the
authors had wished, does not mean that the judicial proceedings were unfair.
5.5 In respect to the authors' claim that the names of the judges who
participated in the decision were not disclosed, the State party notes that
it was possible to get the names of those judges participating in the
decision by contacting the Registry of the Supreme Court and that this
information was thus publicly available. The State party concludes that
there has thus been no violation of article 14, paragraph 1, of the Covenant
in the instant case. The State party adds that at present, the names of the
judges are mentioned on the written judgements.
5.6 In respect to the authors' claim under article 26 of the Covenant, the
State party notes that the expropriation of the land had been determined on
the basis of statistics available on the prices paid for comparable pieces
of land at the time of the expropriation. The State party notes that the
Supreme Court, in its decision of 1 December 1993, noted that the report of
the National Board of Survey did not indicate that the compensation had been
incorrectly calculated. The Supreme Court also considered that the authors
had not presented any evidence that would have given reason to find that
they had not been treated equally. The State party argues that differences
in prices do not as such render a decision incorrect or discriminatory. The
State party concludes that there has been no violation of article 26 of the
Covenant in the present case.
AUTHORS' COMMENTS ON THE STATE PARTY'S SUBMISSIONS
6. On 4 March 2003, the authors comment on the State party's submission.
They argue that their communication is admissible. As to the merits, they
reiterate that the National Board of Survey was of the opinion that they had
not received equal treatment in comparison with expropriations in the same
region for the same purpose.
THE COMMITTEE'S ADMISSIBILITY CONSIDERATION
7.1 Before considering any claims contained in a communication, the Human
Rights Committee must, in accordance with rule 93 of its rules of procedure,
decide whether or not the communication is admissible under the Optional
Protocol to the Covenant.
7.2 The Committee notes that the authors have exhausted all domestic
remedies available to them. It may also be noted that the authors presented
their communication a year after the European Commission on Human Rights
declared their application inadmissible ratione temporis. The Committee
considers that in the present case, having regard to its particular
circumstances, it is not possible to consider the time that passed before
the communication was filed was so unreasonable as to make the complaint an
abuse of the right of submission.
7.3 As regards the authors' claim that they were not treated equally in
relation to the compensation paid for expropriated land property, in
violation of article 26 of the Covenant, the Committee notes that the
Supreme Court, after having examined all the evidence before it, including
the report of the National Board of Survey to which the authors refer,
concluded that there was not sufficient evidence to prove that the authors
were treated contrary to the equality principle enshrined in the
Constitution. The Committee recalls that it is normally for the courts of
States parties, and not for the Committee, to evaluate facts and evidence in
a particular case. In the instant case, the Committee, having examined the
Supreme Court's decision, is of the opinion that the decision is not
manifestly arbitrary or ill-founded. Consequently, the Committee finds this
claim inadmissible under article 2 of the Optional Protocol.
7.4 As regards the remaining claim of a violation of article 14, paragraph
1, of the Covenant, the Committee is of the view that it is admissible and
proceeds to consider it on the merits.
CONSIDERATION OF THE MERITS
8.1 The Human Rights Committee has considered the present communication in
the light of all the information made available to it by the parties, as
provided in article 5, paragraph 1, of the Optional Protocol.
8.2 In respect to the authors' claim that they are the victims of a
violation of article 14, paragraph 1 of the Covenant, the Committee notes
the State party's explanation, which has not been contested by the authors,
that the authors could at any time have requested the names of the judges
participating in the decision from the Registry of the Supreme Court. The
Committee therefore considers that the facts before it do not reveal any
violation of article 14, paragraph 1 of the Covenant.
9. The Human Rights Committee, acting under article 5, paragraph 4, of the
Optional Protocol, is of the view that the facts before it do not disclose a
violation of any of the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights.
[Adopted in English, French and Spanish, the English text being the original
version. Subsequently to be issued in Arabic, Chinese and Russian as part of
the Committee's annual report to the General Assembly.]