The Right Against Double Jeopardy (Non Bis in Idem) and the Drafting History of Article 14(7) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966

Author Jamil Ddamulira Mujuzi

ISSN: 2411-7870
Affiliations: Professor, Faculty of Law, University of the Western Cape
Source: Fundamina, Volume 29 Issue 1, p. 1-28


Article 14(7) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966 provides that “[n]o one shall be liable to be tried or punished again for an offence for which he has already been finally convicted or acquitted in accordance with the law and penal procedure of each country”. The drafters of that provision agreed that once a person had finally been convicted or acquitted of an offence, they should not be tried or punished for the same offence based on the same facts or evidence. The ICCPR does not define what a “final” judgment amounts to for the purposes of article 14(7). This is so because, after several days of deliberation, the drafters of the ICCPR failed to agree on the definition of that term. Despite some states proposing such a definition, the drafters instead agreed to omit it completely, with the understanding that each state will determine the meaning of a “final judgment” within their own context. This contribution illustrates the drafting history of article 14(7), which shows that the drafters agreed on the definition of the word “finally” in the provision, but that they decided against including the definition in the provision. This means that states are required to follow that definition when interpreting article 14(7). Furthermore, this study also shows the impact of this drafting history on the reservations made by various states. It is argued that certain of these reservations to article 14(7) are incompatible with the drafting history of the provision.