AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE (AFP) (Friday, July 27, 2001)
UN RIGHTS COMMISSION CONCERNED ABOUT DUTCH EUTHANASIA LAW
GENEVA, July 27 (AFP) – The UN Human Rights Committee expressed fears Friday that new Dutch legislation allowing euthanasia might lead to general insensitivity over so-called mercy killings.
“The main worry is not only the actual practice, but also the fact that this new law could create precedents that dilute the importance and trivialise this act. The practitioner could become practically insensitive and the act trivialised,” said committee rapporteur Eckart Klein.
In April, the Dutch senate passed a law allowing mercy killings, making the Netherlands the first country to legalise it, although the practice has been tolerated there for many years. The law comes into effect in January.
In its conclusions, the UN body recognised that euthanasia is a very complex ethical issue.
“This new law tries to apply a precise legal framework to a situation that has evolved along with medical practices,” said Klein.
The committee is worried that more than 2,000 cases of euthanasia and assisted suicide, according to government figures, have been carried out by doctors in the last year, some in hospitals and some in the home.
The issue of applying the law to minors, specifically to 16 to 18-year-olds without parental consent if a court agrees, also concerns the rights watchdog.
The committee also described as deeply worrying information that medical personnel have ended the lives of newly-born handicapped babies.
“The Netherlands is asked to collect information, within 12 months, on the application of Commission recommendations regarding the euthanasia law and on the issue of post-natal infanticide,” the group of UN experts said.
BRITISH BROADCASTING CORP
(Saturday, 28 July, 2001)
UN concern at Dutch euthanasia law
There are concerns that staff will become desensitised.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee has criticised the Netherlands for its controversial new law on euthanasia.
The committee’s rapporteur, Eckart Klein, said the growing number of assisted suicides could lead to them becoming routine.
The main worry is not only the actual practice, but also the fact that this new law could create precedents that dilute the importance and trivialise this act.
“The main worry is not only the actual practice, but also the fact that this new law could create precedents that dilute the importance and trivialise this act,” he said.
“The practitioner could become practically insensitive and the act trivialised.”
The committee is worried about figures, supplied by the government, which show that more than 2,000 cases of euthanasia were carried out last year.
It is also concerned about reports that medical personnel have ended the lives of new-born handicapped babies.
The issue of applying the law to young people without parental consent has also been raised.
The draft report said that the Dutch Government should review the law in the light of the committee’s observations.
Netherlands parliament passing law The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalise euthanasia.
The Dutch Senate passed the law allowing assisted-suicide in April, making the Netherlands the first country in the world to legalise it.
The law comes into effect next January although the practice has been tolerated in the country for many years.
It has the following specific conditions:
The patient must have an incurable illness
He or she must be experiencing “unbearable suffering”
The patient must be of sound mind and have given consent
The termination of life must then be carried out in a medically appropriate manner.