Will France have to legislate in favor of assisted suicide or euthanasia under the threat of a possible condemnation by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)? The bill establishing active assistance in dying should be made public ” in the next weeks “according to the Elysée. ” I think that [le texte] will be in the Council of Ministers before the end of the year, and then in Parliament next year”, declared on Sud Radio, Monday September 25, Franck Riester, the minister responsible for relations with Parliament. But to force the government to keep its commitments, supporters of a change in the legal framework for the end of life believe they have a new means of pressure.
The ECHR, in fact, announced on Monday its decision to investigate thirty-one applications filed in April by Dignitas against France. These requests, all identical, come from members – the vast majority French – of this Swiss association known for supporting people who wish to end their lives.
The fact that the ECHR considered that Dignitas’ requests are admissible is “a decisive stage victory, welcomes Me Patrice Spinosi, lawyer for the association. More than 90% of actions taken against France before the ECHR fail to pass the admissibility filter.
Dignitas, which contacted the ECHR in the hope of obtaining opening in France “a right to die with dignity”, hopes to achieve its goals on the basis of the European Convention on Human Rights. In its legal argument, the association argues that France – in the absence of legislation on active assistance in dying – violates the “right to life”has “protection against inhuman or degrading treatment”, “personal autonomy”, “freedom of thought and conscience”so many great principles which all appear in the European Convention on Human Rights.
The decision of the ECHR to examine these requests will now give rise to a contradictory debate with the French government which will take time.
As is the rule in the event of referral to the Strasbourg Court, the human rights sub-directorate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will have to answer – with the help of other major administrations – the questions of European magistrates.
Exchanges between France and the Court should end no later than September 2024. The ECHR’s deliberation could then take at least a year. The Court’s judgment is not expected before the end of 2025.
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