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Pretty v. United Kingdom , (2346/02) [2002] ECHR 423 (29 April 2002)

Facts: the applicant was dying of a neuron disease. She was paralyzed but could make decisions. She wanted to die to be spared of suffering and indignity but could not do it by herself. She thus wanted her husband to help her commit suicide. However, it was a crime to assist another to commit suicide under the British laws and her request to guarantee her husband freedom from prosecution if he helped her was refused.

Complaint: The applicant claimed that the U.K. violated Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment), Article 2 (right to life), Article 8 (right to respect for private life), Article 9 (freedom of conscience) and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination)

Holding: the ECHR found no violation of article 2, 3, 8, 9 and 14

Reasoning: Article 2 1 enjoined States to refrain from the unlawful taking of life and to take appropriate steps to safeguard lives. Article 2 could not be interpreted as conferring a right to die so there was no violation of article 2. Moreover, as article 3 was construed in conjunction with Article 2 there was no violation of article 3 either.

 

 

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