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UN Human Rights Committee on Dutch Euthanasia Law

States that are party to the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR) are obliged to report every 5 years to the Human Rights Committee of the Covenant, focussing on Human Rights issues in general and “right to life” in particular. As before (in 2002, the Euthanasia Law was just enacted) the Committee raised in the scope of this report their concern on the Dutch law on the Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide. Their main concern is

“….remains at the extent of euthanasia and assisted suicides in the State party.Under the law on the Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide, a physician can terminate a patient’s life without any independent review by a judge or magistrate to guarantee that this decision was not the subject of undue influence or misapprehension.Though a second physician must give an opinion, even this can be obtained from a telephone hotline.So, too, there is no prior judicial review of a physician’s decision to terminate a patient’s life in circumstances where the patient is not able to make the request for termination. (art. 6).”


Therefore the Committee concludes

“The Committee reiterates its previous recommendations in this regard and urges that this legislation be reviewed in light of the Covenant’s recognition of the right to life.”


Comment  (Rob Jonquiere): Notwithstanding repeated extensive and in-depth explanations and informations by the Dutch Government, both written and in person, and not withstanding convincing international sceintific evidence on the contrary, the concern raised (again) can only be explained by a basic repudiation of and denial to really listen to pro-euthanasia arguments. The composition of the Committee of Experts (see below) may well be an indication for this. Anyway, recommendations are no obligations, so – as in 2002 – I expect the Dutch Government to proceed as usual and not follow the conclusion of the Committee.


Composition of the Committee:

Abdelfattah Amor (Tunisia); Mohammed Ayat (Morocco); Lazhari Bouzid (Algeria); Prafullachandra Natwarlal Bhagwati (India); Christine Chanet (France); Ahmed Amin Fathalla (Egypt); Yuji Iwasawa (Japan); Helen Keller (Switzerland); Rajsoomer Lallah (Mauritius); Zonke Zanele Majodina (South Africa); Iulia Antoanella Motoc (Romania); Michael O’Flaherty (Ireland);
José Luis Perez Sanchez-Cerro (Perú); Rafael Rivas Posada (Colombia); Krister Thelin (Sweden); Nigel Rodley (United Kingdom); Fabian Omar Salvioli (Argentina); and Ruth Wedgwood (United States).