1. The authors of the
communication are Mr. J.O., a Belgian national born in 1951 and his
companion, Mrs. S.Z., a Belgian resident born in 1970. They submit the
communication on their behalf and on behalf of their child S., a Belgian
national born in 1999, and claim to be victims of violations of their human
rights by Belgium, in particular of all of their "judicial rights", rights
under the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Although the authors
do not invoke any specific provision of the Covenant, the communication
appears to raise issues under articles 2, paragraph 3 (b); 14; and 26. The
authors are not represented by counsel. The Covenant and the Optional
Protocol entered into force for the State party on 21 July 1983 and 17
August 1994, respectively.
2.1 From the documents submitted to the Committee, it transpires that in
1992, Mr. O., then a taxi driver, was the victim of an assault by another
taxi driver and as consequence was declared temporarily unable to work.
2.2 On 15 November 1999, while the author and his pregnant companion were
travelling in a public bus in Brussels, a car crashed into the bus.
Allegedly, the author and his companion were thrust into to the seats in
front of them and suffered injuries. The author's companion was hospitalized
and gave birth to their daughter on 21 November 1999. According to the
authors, their daughter has been affected by the accident, in that she is
suffering from growth problems.
2.3 From the multiple documents submitted by the authors, it transpires that
they are parties to different proceedings related to the above events. For
instance, in 1994, the author contested the decision of a Mutual Insurance
company to suspend his work incapacity entitlements starting from 12
November 1993. Allegedly, on 11 September 2001, the Brussels Labour Court (Cour
du Travail de Bruxelles) decided in the author's favour. The author claims
however, that the delay of the procedure - 7 years - constitutes undue delay
that he imputes to omissions of his lawyer.
2.4 In another procedure, the author was opposed to an insurance company, in
relation to the reimbursement of a disability insurance premium. He
allegedly had contracted a disability insurance with the company in 1992,
and following his recognition as disabled person in 1993, he requested the
payment of disability pension. The company disagreed, claiming that the
author's disability existed, in fact, prior to the conclusion of the
contract and that it was covered by an exemption clause to this effect.
Allegedly, on 17 January 1996, the Brussels First Instance Tribunal ordered
an expert medical opinion, as the company and the author disagreed on the
expert to examine the author. In his report, the designated expert, Dr. I.,
confirmed the company's version. The author contests the expert's conclusion
and claims that he was partial.
2.5 A third set of proceedings relate to the author's litigation with the
insurance company of his employer in 1992, where the author had requested
the payment of indemnities for his incapacity to work. In fact, after the
author's accident of 1992, he was declared by a medical expert to be 100%
fit to work with effect of 1 January 1993. In 1996, however, another medical
expert concluded that, following the 1992 accident, the author displayed a
66 % inability to work. On 10 March 1998, the author complained against the
insurer to the Brussels Labour Court (Cour du Travail de Bruxelles). On 11
December 1998, the Court rejected the author's claim as having been
submitted out of time. The author requested a revision of this decision and
invoked force majeure. By judgment of 20 November 2000, the Court rejected
his request. In this regard, the author claims a violation of his right to
defence, as his lawyer allegedly did not respect the statutory appeal
deadline and was responsible for the prescription of his action.
2.6 A final set of procedures was conducted by the authors against the
insurance company of the car driver responsible for the 1999 accident. The
authors claimed that they suffered serious injuries and requested
reparation. The insurance company contested this claim and requested a
medical opinion to verify the consequences of the accident for the authors'
health. The medical expert issued his report on 4 July 2005; he allegedly
concluded that the authors did not present any evidence of injuries
attributable to the accident. The authors contest the expert's conclusion
and claim a violation of their right to defence, as the designated medical
expert allegedly defended the company's interests. They also complain about
their lawyer who proposed this expert.
2.7 The authors explain that they have appealed to several institutions and
submit copies of their complaints (Ministry of Justice, First Minister,
etc), claiming various unspecified violations of their rights. On 24
February 2004, and in three additional letters of 28 July 2005, they
enumerate several alleged procedural violations in the proceedings involving
them, and have filed a complaint in the Brussels First Instance Tribunal.
They claim violations of their rights and complain about the misconduct of
several of the lawyers who represented them, and also about different
representatives of the Brussels Bar who allegedly "covered" these lawyers,
and about the alleged partiality of the medical expert who investigated the
effects on them of the 1999 accident. On 10 May 2005, an examining
magistrate of the First Instance Tribunal informed them that their case was
with the Federal Police, which would convoke them shortly.
3.1 The authors do not invoke particular provisions of the Covenant. In
essence, they claim that due to their counsels' and a medical expert's
misconduct, the State party has allegedly mishandled their cases as
presented in paragraphs 2.1 to 2.7 above. They explain that they are unable
to obtain redress of the situation in the State party as lawyers do not
perform their work properly, whereas they have no more (financial) means to
pay for their defence. They also claim that their cases have not been
resolved since 1992 (in relation to the case of Mr. O.) and 1999 (for the
bus accident), which is said to constitute an undue delay. These claims may
raise issues under articles 2, paragraph 3 (b), and 14, of the Covenant.
3.2 Allegedly, due to the authorities' acts or omissions, their daughter
does not receive any social benefits (allocation).
3.3 Finally, the authors also claim that they are victims of racial
discrimination by the State party, without further substantiating this
claim, which could raise issues under article 26 of the Covenant.
ISSUES AND PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE COMMITTEE
4.1 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 it is admissible under the Optional Protocol to the
4.2 As required by article 5, paragraph 2 (a), of the Optional Protocol, the
Committee has ascertained that a similar complaint submitted by the author
was declared inadmissible by the European Court for Human Rights on 7
November 2003 (application No. 16793/03), as "manifestly ill-founded".
Article 5, paragraph 2 (a), however, does not preclude the Committee from
examining the present communication as the issue is no longer being examined
by the European Court and the State party has formulated no reservation
under article 5, paragraph 2 (a) of the Optional Protocol.
4.3 The Committee has noted the authors' claims that, firstly, the State
party has violated their human rights, due to the alleged mishandling of
their cases in relation to the situation in which they have found themselves
following the accidents of 1992 and 1999. It observes that the author's
claims primarily relate to the assessment of elements of facts and evidence
in the case. It recalls that it is generally for the courts of States
parties to the Covenant to evaluate facts and evidence in a particular case,
unless it can be ascertained that it was clearly arbitrary or amounted to a
denial of justice. [FN1] The material before the Committee does not show
that the various proceedings in the State party suffered from such defects.
Accordingly, the Committee considers that the author has failed to
sufficiently substantiate his claim, for purposes of admissibility, and that
this part of the communication is inadmissible under article 2 of the
[FN1] See for example Communication No. 541/1993, Errol Simms v. Jamaica,
Inadmissibility decision adopted on 3 April 1995, paragraph 6.2.
4.4 Secondly, the Committee notes that the conduct of a privately hired
defence lawyer in civil proceedings is not protected as such by any
provision of the Covenant. Article 14, paragraph 3 (d) obliges States
parties to provide legal aid only within the frame work of criminal
proceedings. The Committee therefore concludes that this claim is
incompatible ratione materiae with the provisions of the Covenant, under
article 3 of the Optional Protocol.
4.5 As far as the author's claim that their proceedings suffered from undue
delay, the Committee notes that from the material before it, it cannot be
established that this delay can in any way be imputed to the State party.
Rather, the delays appear to be the consequence of the authors' successive
actions against the insurance companies, as well as their repeated
challenges to the conclusions of experts and complaints about their lawyers.
In the circumstances, the Committee considers that the author has failed to
sufficiently substantiate, for purposes of admissibility, this particular
claim. Accordingly, this part of the communication is inadmissible under
article 2 of the Optional Protocol.
4.6 The Committee has further taken note of the authors otherwise
unsubstantiated claims that their daughter is not entitled to social
benefits, and that they are victims of racial discrimination. The Committee
considers that the authors have failed to sufficiently substantiate, for
purposes of admissibility, these claims, which accordingly are inadmissible
under article 2 of the Optional Protocol.
5. The Human Rights Committee therefore decides:
(a) That the communication is inadmissible under article 2 and 3 of the
(b) That this decision shall be transmitted to the State party and to the
author, for information.
Adopted in English, French and Spanish, the English text being the original
version. Subsequently to be issued also in Arabic, Chinese and Russian as
part of the Committee's annual report to the General Assembly.