Larry Pinkney’s 1981 United Nations ruling victory was cited in the International Commission of Jurists’ Trial Observation Manual for Criminal Proceedings: Practitioners Guide No. 5, by Paul Richmond and Federico Andreu Guzmán, ISBN: 978-92-9037-141-2, Geneva, 2009, under “the right to be tried within a reasonable time.”

Excerpts from pages 128-129:

The elements and rights inherent in the right to a fair trial must be observed by the higher tribunal when considering a challenge or review of a conviction.228

They include:

  1. the presumption of innocence;229
  2. the right to adequate time and facilities to prepare the appeal;
  3. the right to a lawyer of one’s choosing;230
  4. the right to equality of arms (including the right to be notified of the opposing party’s submissions);
  5. the right to be tried within a reasonable time;231 and
  6. the right to a public and reasoned judgment within a reasonable time.232

The right to have counsel appointed to represent the appellant on appeal is subject to similar conditions as the right to have counsel appointed at trial – it must be deemed to be in the interests of justice. If the lawyer who defended the accused in the first trial does not intend to appeal the conviction or sentence or submit arguments to a higher tribunal or court (because, for example, he or she does not think there are grounds to challenge the court’s verdict), the defendant has the right to be so informed as well as to appoint another lawyer so that his or her concerns can be examined on appeal. The higher tribunal must take steps to ensure that this right is made effective.233

The right to a public hearing does not necessarily apply to all procedures for challenging conviction or sentence.234 However, when national legislation provides for the participation of the guilty party in person at the appeal proceedings and/or public hearing related to it, the relevant international standards relating to the latter two rights must be applied (see points 2 and 7 of this chapter). If the review procedure is carried out only in writing, the higher court is, nevertheless, required to examine in detail the facts of the case, the allegations against the person found guilty and the items of evidence presented at trial and on appeal.235

231. Human Rights Committee, Views of 29 March 1984, Antonio Viana Acosta v. Uruguay, Communication No. 110/1981, paras. 13.2 and 15, Views of 29 October 1981, Larry James Pinkney v. Canada, Communication No. 27/1978, para. 35; and Views of 25 October 2001, Boodlal Sooklal v. Trinidad and Tobago, Communication No. 928/2000, para. 4.8 et seq.

© Copyright International Commission of Jurists ® Trial Observation Manual for Criminal Proceedings –Practitioners Guide No. 5, ISBN: 978-92-9037-141-2, Geneva, 2009


Larry Pinkney is a veteran of the Black Panther Party, the former Minister of Interior of the Republic of New Africa, a former political prisoner and the only American to have successfully self-authored his civil/political rights case to the United Nations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In connection with his political organizing activities, Pinkney was interviewed in 1988 on the nationally televised PBS News Hour, formerly known as The MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour, and more recently on the nationally syndicated Alex Jones Show. Pinkney is a former university instructor of political science and international relations, and his writings have been published in various places, including The Boston Globe, San Francisco BayView newspaper, Black Commentator, Intrepid Report, Global Research (Canada), LINKE ZEITUNG (Germany), 107 Cowgate (Ireland and Scotland), and Mayihlome News (Azania/South Africa). He is in the archives of Dr. Huey P. Newton (Stanford University, CA), cofounder of the Black Panther Party. For more about Larry Pinkney see the book, Saying No to Power: Autobiography of a 20th Century Activist and Thinker, by William Mandel [Introduction by Howard Zinn]. (Click here to read excerpts from the book.)


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