One aspect of Larry Pinkney’s 1981 self-authored United Nations case victory was highlighted in the book entitled, ‘Essential Cases on Human Right for the Police: Reviews and Summaries of International Cases’ by Ralph Crawshaw and Leif Holmstöm (Book 4 of the series: The Raoul Wallenberg Institute Professional Guides to Human Rights), published by Martinus Nijhoff, 2006.

Excerpt from pages 290-291, Part II: ‘Police Powers and Respect of Human Rights,’ Section 5. ‘Prohibition of Arbitrary Interference with Privacy:’


Another early case involving the issue of correspondence of a detainee is the case of Larry James Pinkney v. Canada.9 The author, a citizen of the United States of America, was serving a prison sentence in Canada. He described himself as a black political activist. On 10 May 1976, he was arrested and remanded in custody pending trial on certain criminal charges. He alleged that Canada had violated a number of provisions of the Covenant, including article 17, paragraph 1, as he was prevented from communicating with outside officials during his pre-trial detention.

When Mr. Pinkney was detained, there existed a domestic legal provision governing the regulation of detainees’ correspondence that was expressed in very general terms. The Committee observed that in prohibiting arbitrary or unlawful interference with correspondence, article 17 of the Covenant also required that everyone should have the right to the protection of the law against such interference. Even though there was no evidence to establish that Mr. Pinkney was himself a victim of a violation of the Covenant in this respect, the provision did not, in the opinion of the Committee, in itself provide satisfactory legal safeguards against arbitrary application.


9. See United Nations, Official Records of the General Assembly, Thirty-seventh Session, Supplement No. 40 (A/37/40), annex VII, communication No. 27/1977, views adopted on 29 October 1981.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.