Wim Distelmons the head of the Belgium Federal Control and Evaluation Commission (FCEC) stated that, around the 10th September 2016, euthanasia was administered on a minor aged 17 years suffering from an incurable disease. The first of its kind and rarest of the cases. No further information was provided. (Everything Kept confidential).
Euthanasia (the treatment) is legal only in four countries of the world. which are Belgium, Netherlands, Colombia and Luxembourg. Few other countries accept Assisted suicide, passive and active assisted suicide. Which also include Cananda, Japan, India and some states of U.S.
“The Belgian Act on Euthanasia of May 28th 2002” (the Act) is the law that legalised Euthanasia for adults in Belgium, let alone the amendment to the law, in December 2013 that extended the treatment to any child irrespective of the age.
Ever since the law was made. It registered five (5) lives per day. A hundred and fifty (150) per month and around One Thousand Eight Hundred Seventy Five (1,875) annually, a figure seen in 2013 which was a 26.5% rise in euthanasia cases.
The Conditions and procedures to administor the treatment is rigorous and brutal. The Act gives 99% power, control and Total confidentiality of the procedures to a ‘qualified physician’s’. It still creates the Federal Control and Evaluation Commission to administer the Act whose power is limited to creating of standard forms for use in and after the procedures, analysing of reports of performed euthanasia, hearing of complaints related to Euthanasia and overall supervision of the treatment.
Condition for the treatment.
(i) The patient must be at the most conscious moment of making his request
(ii) The request must be voluntary, well considered, repeated and not a result of any external pressure.
(iii) The patient must be in a medically futile condition of constant and unbearable physical or mental suffering that cannot be alleviated, resulting from a serious and incurable disorder caused by illness or accident.
Procedures for the treatment.
1. The patient makes a written request to the Physician.
2. The physician may then inform the patient about his/her health condition and life expectancy.
3. The physician must be certain of the patients constant physical and mental suffering. To this end, the physician has several conversations with the patient spread out over a reasonable period of time, taking into account the progress of the patients condition
5. The attending physician must then Consult another physician about the serious incurable character of the disorder and inform him/her about the reasons for the consultation.
6. The consultant shall review the medial record, examine the patient and must be certain of the patients constant and unbearable physical, mental suffering that cannot be alleviated.
7. The consultant must then make his written reports and finding.
8. The attending physician then informs the patient of the results of consultation.
9. The attending physician must then allow atleast one (1) month between the date of the patients request and the act of euthanasia.
10. The attending physician shall then perform the act, fill in the registration form deliver it to the Federal Control and Evaluation Commission.
Euthanasia in Uganda.
In Uganda, one has a right to life, but not a right to death. That is clearly provided by the law. It is a crime to Murder and attempt suicide. Therefore Euthanasia is a crime in Uganda.
I can hereby conclude that the Constitution is an oppressive instrument something it shouldn’t be, by granting a right to life, but no right to death.
However now or in the future one may attempt to move an argument that Article 24 of the Constitution provides for
“Respect for human dignity and protection from inhumane treatment”
‘No person shall be subjected to any form of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. ‘
This provision of the law is Non-derogable under Article 44 (a). Meaning it is absolute, any derogation however slight from it is totally unacceptable. While the right to life is derogable.
The provision of Article 24 is clear and unambiguous, therefore it must be given an intrinsically plain and natural meaning.
One may still argue that the intention of the drafters was to prevent a repeatition of Ugandans military past characterised by killings, arbitrary imprisonment and torturing of political opponents of regimes that time.
It can still be said that the Constitution is a living document and should be interpreted futuristically and liberally.
Therefore euthanasia may become relevant now, or in future when ‘unbearable physical, mental suffering that cannot be alleviated resulting from a serious and incurable disorder, caused by illness or accident’ takes grip of a Ugandan society.
In Uganda people are happy and may have a few mishaps here and there. But the bit of modernity always leads to depression, incurable diseases and terminal illness arising out of bad life styles and poor eating habbits. It may just be a matter of time before Ugandans give a thought to the concept of euthanasia.
In Cananda euthanasia was absolutely illegal until 2015 where it was initiated by the Supreme Court ruling of Carter V Canada (AG) 2015 SCCA 5 which stated that Canadian adults, who are mentally competent and suffering intolerably and permanently, have the right to a doctors’ help dying. The Court then suspended its ruling for twelve months to give the government an opportunity to write legislation and draft new laws and policies around assisted dying.
In future our courts of law will be faced with the exact problem to decide.
The Moral Problem
Euthanasia is absolutely a moral and social problem than it is legal. It goes against the customary role of doctors (to treat patients). Now it extends the role of doctors to also end lives of patients.
Ever since the law was enacted in 2002, such cases of euthanasia have risen because there has been a rise in mental and physical pain caused by terminal illnesses with are a result of poor life styles.
Because it is 99% handled and controlled in confidentiality by a qualified physician. It raises the risk of negligence covered up by these physicians.
Lastly, the issue of privacy is raised, its universal that anybody has a right to deal with his/her body in manners they want and this is not sanctioned by any law, except natural law.
Therefore will the idea that an individual suffers unbearable pain that can’t be alleviated make his life useless to live, this is a relative question.
By The Kamapala Law Monthly Magazine Team.