Posted on January 13, 2019 at 9:45 AM
It looks like the European Court of Human Rights will hear Mortier v. Belgium which concerns euthanasia safeguards for psychiatric conditions.
The patient's son (Tom Mortier) brought an application alleging that physicians euthanized his mother (Godelieva De Troyer), in 2012, without his or sister's knowledge. His mother was suffering from chronic depression.
Since 2012, the Belgian federal commission of control and evaluation (which is charged with verifying the procedure and conditions in the May 28, 2002 euthanasia law) found no infringement with the law. Similarly, neither the Brussels College of Physicians not criminal prosecutors pursued the matter.
Because no Belgian government authority would pursue the matter, the patient's son alleges that Belgium failed its positive obligations to protect the life of his mother, because the procedure provided for by the Law of 28 May 2002 was not complied with. He also alleges a violation of the procedural aspect of Article 2 of the Convention in view of the lack of a thorough and effective investigation. Among other things, the commission was not apparently not independent from the treating physician (Wim Distelmans).
The court has posed four questions to the parties to assess whether it should take the case.
1. Has the applicant exhausted domestic remedies within the meaning of Article 35 § 1 of the Convention?
2. Has the right to life of the applicant's mother as guaranteed by Article 2 of the Convention been respected? In particular, has the State complied with its preventive obligations under this provision?
3. Has an effective investigation in accordance with the requirements of Article 2 of the Convention been conducted in this case?
4. Does a separate question arise in respect of the applicant's right to respect for his private and family life as guaranteed by Article 8 of the Convention? If so, has this provision been misunderstood?