‘Lethal injection’ row: Swiss law unclear on assisted suicide, says Court

Human rights judges today indictade that Swiss law is “not clear enough” as to when assisted suicide is permitted.

In its Chamber judgment in the case of Gross v. Switzerland (application no. 67810/10), which is not final, the European Court of Human Rights held, by a majority, that there had been:

A violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case concerned the complaint of an elderly woman, who wishes to end her life but does not suffer from a clinical illness, that she was unable to obtain the Swiss authorities’ permission to be provided with a lethal dose of a drug in order to commit suicide.

The court held in particular that Swiss law, while providing the possibility of obtaining a lethal dose of a drug on medical prescription, did not provide sufficient guidelines ensuring clarity as to the extent of this right. This uncertain situation was likely to have caused Ms Gross a considerable degree of anguish.

At the same time, the court did not take a stance on the question of whether she should have been granted the possibility to acquire a lethal dose of medication allowing her to end her life.

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