Highest European Court of Human Rights Rules that Belgium Violated Right to Life in Case of Euthanasia – ZENIT – English

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

The European Court of Human Rights concludes that the country failed to conduct a proper investigation into the circumstances of Godelieva de Troyer’s euthanasia in 2012.

Highest European Court of Human Rights Rules that Belgium Violated Right to Life in Case of Euthanasia – ZENIT – English

Woman Is Killed In Euthanasia. Photo: Archive


(ZENIT News / Strasbourg, 10.05.2022).- In an important case on the right to life, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday, October 4, in favor of Tom Mortier, son of Godelieva de Troyer, who died of lethal injection in 2012 at age 64. His euthanasia was carried out on the basis of a diagnosis of “incurable depression.” In the “Mortier v. Belgium” case, the court found that Belgium violated the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to properly examine the alarming circumstances that led to his euthanasia.

The court held that Belgium violated Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which says that everyone’s right to life must be protected by law. The sentence concerned the way in which the Belgian Federal Commission for the Control and Evaluation of Euthanasia dealt with the events surrounding De Troyer’s euthanasia and the lack of a prompt criminal investigation following De Troyer’s death. However, the court stopped short of ruling that the Belgian legislative framework per se violates the European Convention.

“Taking into account the crucial role played by the Commission in the ex post control of euthanasia, the Court considers that the control system established in the present case did not guarantee its independence,” the court ruled unanimously. Thus, it considered that Belgium failed to comply with its positive procedural obligation under Article 2, both for the lack of such independence and for a prompt criminal investigation.

“We welcome the court’s finding that there has been a violation of Article 2, demonstrating the inadequacy of ‘safeguards’ for intentional ending of life,” said ADF International Deputy Director Robert Clarke. who represented Tom Mortier in court. “The facts of this case counter the notion that there is a so-called ‘right to die’ and lay bare the horrors that inevitably unfold throughout society when euthanasia is legalised. Unfortunately, although the court indicated that a greater “safeguard” is an adequate solution to protect life, it makes clear in its own judgment that the laws and protocols were really insufficient to protect the rights of Tom’s mother.

“It is unfortunate that the court has dismissed the challenge to the Belgian legal framework,” Clarke continued. The bottom line, however, is that the “safeguards” being touted to protect vulnerable people should prompt greater caution about euthanasia in Europe, and around the world. The reality is that there are no “safeguards” that can mitigate the dangers of the practice once it is legal. Nothing can bring Tom’s mother back to life, but we hope this decision offers her some small measure of justice.

Mortier’s mother turned to the country’s leading euthanasia advocate, who, despite being a cancer specialist, eventually agreed to euthanize her. Over the course of a few months, the woman made a financial payment to his organization and was referred by him to see other doctors who were also part of the same association, despite the requirement of independent opinions in the case of people who they are not expected to die soon. The same doctor who euthanized him is also co-chair of the federal commission charged with approving euthanasia cases, a clear conflict of interest. Despite the fact that an average of seven people are euthanized every day in Belgium, the commission has only referred one case for investigation.

“The big problem in our society is that we have apparently lost the sense of caring for each other,” Mortier said after his mother’s euthanasia. Before his death by euthanasia, no one consulted with him or with any other family member. According to the oncologist who administered the lethal injection to his mother, his diagnosis was “intractable depression.”

Euthanasia in Belgium has been legal since 2002. The law specifies that the person must be in a “medically useless state of constant and unbearable physical or mental suffering that cannot be relieved, resulting from a serious and incurable disorder caused by disease or accident”.

Mortier’s mother was physically healthy, and the psychiatrist who had treated her for more than 20 years doubted that she met the requirements of Belgian euthanasia law. Neither the oncologist who administered the injection nor the hospital informed her that euthanasia was being considered. Mortier found out the day after the euthanasia, when the hospital asked him to do the necessary paperwork for his deceased mother.

“My mother suffered from severe mental difficulties and struggled with depression throughout her life,” recalls Mortier. “She was treated for years by psychiatrists and unfortunately she and I lost touch for some time. It was during this time that she died via lethal injection. I never could have imagined that we would part forever.”

In response to the ruling, Mortier said: “This marks the closure of this terrible chapter, and while nothing can ease the pain of losing my mother, my hope is that the court’s ruling that there was indeed a violation of the right to life put the world on notice of the immense harm that euthanasia inflicts not only on people in vulnerable situations contemplating ending their lives, but also on their families and, ultimately, on society.”

“It is clear that the so-called ‘safeguards’ failed because intentional killing can never be safe,” Clarke explained. “This ruling serves as a stark reminder that we must be unerring in our commitment to uphold the right to life and the truth that people have inherent dignity regardless of age or health.”

Leave a Reply