Archie Battersbee: European Court of Human Rights rejects family’s application

3 August 2022

The European Court of Humans Rights (ECHR) has rejected the urgent legal application from the parents of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee.

In a letter to the family and their legal team, the ECHR said:

“We regret to inform you that on 3 August 2022 the President of the Court decided not to indicate to the Government of the United Kingdom, under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, the interim measure you are seeking. Therefore the Court will not interfere with the decisions of the national courts to allow the withdrawal of life sustaining treatment from Archie Battersbee to proceed.”

The family have had offers from doctors in Japan and Italy to treat Archie and are now considering their options.

Responding to the news, Archie’s mum, Hollie Dance, said: “This is another heart-breaking development in our fight for Archie’s right to live. We have been contacted by doctors in Japan and Italy who say they are willing to treat Archie, why can’t we give him a chance?

“The NHS, the government and the Courts in this country and Europe may have given up on treating him, but we have not.

“The whole system has been stacked against us. Reform must now come through Charlie’s Law so that no parents have to go through this.

“In a worst-case scenario, we want to take Archie to a hospice, but the hospital have said that we cannot do that despite previous promises. We have been told all along that this is all about Archie dying with ‘dignity’, and yet we are told we cannot take him to a hospice where it is quiet and we can spend time with him as a family without the chaos at the hospital.

“We will fight to end for Archie’s right to live.”

Application to the European Court of Human Rights

This morning (3 August), just before the 9am deadline set by Barts Health NHS Trust, the families’ lawyers submitted an application to the ECHR based on a complaint about the United Kingdom’s refusal to honour the UN interim measures which stated that Archie’s life-support should not be removed.

The application concerned the events of 29 July – 2 August 2022, especially the refusal of the United Kingdom government’s Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Barts Health NHS Trust and Royal London Hospital and the domestic courts to honour the Interim Measures indicated by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) on 29 July.

The family said that this refusal failed to honour the UN CRPD Interim Measures and constituted a separate violation of international law, including the European Convention of Human Rights.

The UK courts have taken the view that UN CRPD Interim Measures have a different status in UK domestic law from ECHR Interim Measures, because ECHR rights are incorporated in domestic UK law whereas the terms of the relevant UN Convention are not so incorporated.

Lawyers argued that in these circumstances, it would be appropriate for the Court to indicate Interim Measures in similar terms to those indicated by the UN CRPD.

The application sought the following interim measures: “a prohibition on the Royal London Hospital (which is part of the United Kingdom National Health Service and an emanation of the State) to withdraw life-preserving medical treatment (including mechanical ventilation and artificial nutrition and hydration) from Archie Battersbee pending determination of the substantive application.”

In submissions, lawyers identified that the hospital trust has confirmed in domestic proceedings that the decisions to withdraw treatment and to do so urgently are not in any way influenced by any need to save resources.

Therefore, lawyers argued that the Interim Measures pending determination of the substantive application would not cause any real harm or prejudice.

‘This is about a mother’s love’

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “This is a story about a mother’s love. She was catapulted into a whirlwind of legal battles and media attention all because she believed in giving her beloved son more time.

“Even though the whole system has come against her she has stood with her legal team against all the odds.

“The hospital and courts say this is all about Archie’s dignity which means he should die quickly and at a specified time. The parents don’t agree that it is dignified and in his best interests to die. Even the parents’ request to move him to a hospice is being denied as undignified.

“Common humanity requires a different way of doing this.

“We continue to stand with the family as they consider their next options.”

Find out more about Archie Battersbee
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