DIGNITAS Newsletter – November 2018

EDITORIAL

Dear reader

Assisted suicide is still prohibited by law in many countries. Free and responsible citizens continue to be patronised and prevented against their will from ending their suffering and life in a manner they personally consider dignified. Relatives and friends who respect the wish of a seriously ill person to die and who give him or her their support are still being treated as criminals.

Freedom of choice, self-determination and self-responsibility in life and at at life’s end: This is what DIGNITAS – To live with dignity – To die with dignity continues to work for internationally – in its political and legal work, in its daily advising of individuals seeking help and in preparing and providing assisted suicide for suffering individuals who have made a clear and well-considered choice and who are still denied this right in their home country.

Feel free to share our newsletter with other interested parties. You are also welcome to show support for our goals and international activities by joining as a member or by making a donation.

COUNTRY UPDATE

ITALY

Assisted suicide: Court questions constitutionality of Penal Code provision

On 23 October 2018, the Italian Constitutional Court held that the current legal framework regarding the self-determined end of life (Article 580 of the Penal Code) in certain situations does not sufficiently protect fundamental rights of citizens guaranteed by the Constitution. It instructed the Italian Parliament to … read more

AUSTRIA

Move against the ban on suicide assistance
The Republic of Austria has one of the most rigorous prohibition systems against assisted suicide in Europe. The Austrian Penal Code (ÖStGB), article 78 on “cooperation in suicide”, stipulates that who induces another person to kill him- or herself or helps him or her to do so will be punished with imprisonment of six months to five years. This alone … read more

SWITZERLAND

DIGNITAS Academy: Self-determination requires being well infomed

With its progressive legislation in many areas, including assisted suicide, palliative care, living will and advance health care planning, Switzerland sets an example worldwide. In view of an ageing population, more and more urgent questions have arisen in recent years regarding the preservation of quality of life … read more

INSIDE DIGNITAS

DIGNITAS increases engagement in Switzerland

Much is being written about DIGNITAS – To live with dignity – To die with dignity. However, few people know that the association’s activities go far beyond assisted suicide and that it advises people from all over the world on questions of quality of life, prevention of suicide attempts, patients’ rights and access to palliative care in their home country, and that it is committed to promoting human rights politically and legally both in Switzerland and abroad.

DIGNITAS has decided to increasingly share and make available to the general public its experience and knowledge gained from 20 years of international commitment to self-determination, freedom of choice, self-responsibility and dignity in life until life’s end. To this purpose, DIGNITAS has set up DIGNITAS Academy, which aims to promote research, education, training and knowledge transfer on topics such as the preservation of quality of life in connection with old age or illness, the prevention of suicide attempts, self-determination and freedom of choice in life and at life’s end.

DIGNITAS Academy started with two events in Zurich in autumn.
On 3 October 2018, a public panel discussion explored the question of whether and to what extent it makes a difference for relatives whether they see the death of a loved one coming or they are taken by surprise.
On 8 November 2018, experts from law and medicine shared their knowledge on the topic of “Legal certainty and advisory competence in dealing with assisted suicide” with doctors and other medical specialists at a half-day event.

More information on DIGNITAS Academy can be found at www.dignitas-academy.ch (in German).

DID YOU KNOW THAT…

….70 years ago, on 10 December 1948, the United Nations General Assembly in Paris adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

The Declaration significantly influenced the European Convention on Human Rights, which was adopted by the Council of Europe in Rome only two years later and entered into force in 1953.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg deals with and decides on cases in which the highest court of a country has handed down a judgment which, in the plaintiff’s view, violates the European Convention on Human Rights. With regard to self-determination at the end of life, the ECHR has proven to be quite progressive so far. In the 2011 judgment of the HAAS vs. Switzerland case, the ECHR expressly affirmed the right / freedom of choice and self-determination in “last matters”, with reference to Article 8 of the Convention*.

Therefore, every human being – if he or she is able to judge – is free to decide about the end of his or her life, regardless of whether or not he or she is considered ill from a medical point of view. Nevertheless, it should be noted that numerous countries which have signed the ECHR have laws that to date restrict or even completely disregard this right.

* “In the light of this case-law, the Court considers that an individual’s right to decide by what means and at what point his or her life will end, provided he or she is capable of freely reaching a decision on this question and acting in consequence, is one of the aspects of the right to respect for private life within the meaning of Article 8 of the Convention.'”
Judgment of the ECHR of 20 January 2011 in the “Haas v. Switzerland” case, paragraph 51

MOREOVER…

Conference of the World Federation of Right-to-Die Societies (WFRtDS)
6 – 9 September 2018, Cape Town
Presentation (video) and handout by Silvan Luley, Board Member of DIGNITAS – To live with dignity – To die with dignity.

“Open Future” debate on assisted dying in The Economist
Article by DIGNITAS – To live with dignity – To die with dignity

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