Archie Battersbee: UN to determine if UK violated 12-year-old's right to life

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A United Nations committee will consider a complaint accusing the United Kingdom government of violating the rights of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee, who died last August after a hospital withdrew his treatment following a lengthy court battle with his parents. 

The U.N. Rights of Persons With Disabilities Committee has agreed to consider the complaint of Battersbee's mother, Hollie Dance, that the U.K. High Court violated her son's right to life and equal treatment as a disabled person.

Dance found her son unconscious with a ligature around his neck last April. He suffered a "catastrophic hypoxic ischaemic brain injury" and was hospitalized at the Royal London Hospital before his life support was withdrawn.

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His parents exhausted all legal options to continue his care or move him to hospice. Last July, the United Nations issued an injunction asking that the child not be pulled off life support while his case was considered following the refusal from the U.K. Supreme Court to intervene.

Although the U.N. issued the injunction under Article 4 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the U.K. Court of Appeal ruled that the decision of the U.K. High Court took precedence over the U.N. decision.  

Dance expressed gratitude to the U.N. for agreeing to take on the case, stating that her family has received "little support" from the U.K. system. 

"All we had ever wanted was for Archie to have time. The UN intervention granted that time, but in our hour of need, that was taken away from us," she stated. "Nothing can now bring Archie back, but I am determined to continue to pursue justice for him and to hold the UK government properly accountable."

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which represents Battersbee's family, said in a Wednesday statement that it is "vital that justice is seen to be done." 

"I am sincerely grateful that the UN is taking this matter seriously and scrutinising the UK's decision making to ensure full transparency," she said.

In a 21-page filing, lawyers on behalf of the United Kingdom government asked the U.N. to dismiss the mother's complaint as "inadmissible," "manifestly ill-founded" and an "abuse of process" under the Optional Protocol. 

In a letter dated March 30, Ibrahim Salama, the chief of the U.N.'s Human Rights Treaties Branch, confirmed that the committee would examine whether the decision to withdraw Archie's treatment violated his rights as a disabled individual. 

"The UK government refused to take action to comply with the UN Committee's interim measures and the UK courts refused to ensure that the government satisfied its obligations under international law; this important investigation by the UN CRPD will now clarify if these omissions are compatible with the UK's Treaty obligations as well as set limits on future best-interests decision-making by the UK courts," Dance's attorney Bruno Quintavalle said in a statement.

The U.N. CRPD is intended as a "human rights instrument with an explicit social development dimension." The convention "clarifies" and "qualifies" how all categories of rights apply to disabled persons and areas where their rights may have been violated. 

The U.K. ratified the Convention and its Optional Protocol in 2009, which makes it bound by the final and interim rulings of the U.N. committee.

As stated in Article 10 of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of People With Disabilities: "States Parties reaffirm that every human being has the inherent right to life and shall take all necessary measures to ensure its effective enjoyment by persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others." 

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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