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European Court of Human Rights
You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> European Court of Human Rights >> Pretty v United Kingdom - 2346/02  ECHR 427 (29 April 2002)
Cite as: (2002) 35 EHRR 1, 66 BMLR 147, 35 EHRR 1, (2002) 66 BMLR 147,  2 FCR 97,  35 EHRR 1, 12 BHRC 149,  2 FLR 45,  ECHR 2346/02,  ECHR 427,  All ER (D) 286 (Apr),  Fam Law 588
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This judgment will become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44 § 2 of the Convention.
In the case of Pretty v. the United Kingdom,
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Mr M. Pellonpää, President,
Sir Nicolas Bratza,
Mrs E. Palm,
Mr J. Makarczyk,
Mr M. Fischbach,
Mr J. Casadevall,
Mr S. Pavlovschi, judges,
and Mr M. O'Boyle, Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 19 March and 25 April 2002,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on the last-mentioned date:
There appeared before the Court:
(a) for the Government
Mr C. Whomersley, Agent,
Mr J. Crow,
Mr D. Perry, Counsel,
Mr A. Bacarese,
Ms R. Cox, Advisers;
(b) for the applicant
Mr P. Havers QC,
Ms F. Morris, Counsel,
Mr A. Gask, Trainee solicitor.
The applicant and her husband, Mr B. Pretty, were also present.
The Court heard addresses by Mr Havers and Mr Crow.
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
"Successive Directors – and Attorneys General – have explained that they will not grant immunities that condone, require, or purport to authorise or permit the future commission of any criminal offence, no matter how exceptional the circumstances. ..."
– an order quashing the DPP's decision of 8 August 2001;
– a declaration that the decision was unlawful or that the DPP would not be acting unlawfully in giving the undertaking sought;
– a mandatory order requiring the DPP to give the undertaking sought; or alternatively
– a declaration that section 2 of the Suicide Act 1961 was incompatible with Articles 2, 3, 8, 9 and 14 of the Convention.
"1. No one of ordinary sensitivity could be unmoved by the frightening ordeal which faces Mrs Dianne Pretty, the appellant. She suffers from motor neurone disease, a progressive degenerative illness from which she has no hope of recovery. She has only a short time to live and faces the prospect of a humiliating and distressing death. She is mentally alert and would like to be able to take steps to bring her life to a peaceful end at a time of her choosing. But her physical incapacity is now such that she can no longer, without help, take her own life. With the support of her family, she wishes to enlist the help of her husband to that end. He himself is willing to give such help, but only if he can be sure that he will not be prosecuted under section 2(1) of the Suicide Act 1961 for aiding and abetting her suicide. Asked to undertake that he would not under section 2(4) of the Act consent to the prosecution of Mr Pretty under section 2(1) if Mr Pretty were to assist his wife to commit suicide, the Director of Public Prosecutions has refused to give such an undertaking. On Mrs Pretty's application for judicial review of that refusal, the Queen's Bench Divisional Court upheld the Director's decision and refused relief. Mrs Pretty claims that she has a right to her husband's assistance in committing suicide and that section 2 of the 1961 Act, if it prohibits his helping and prevents the Director undertaking not to prosecute if he does, is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. It is on the Convention, brought into force in this country by the Human Rights Act 1998, that Mrs Pretty's claim to relief depends. It is accepted by her counsel on her behalf that under the common law of England she could not have hoped to succeed.
2.. In discharging the judicial functions of the House, the appellate committee has the duty of resolving issues of law properly brought before it, as the issues in this case have been. The committee is not a legislative body. Nor is it entitled or fitted to act as a moral or ethical arbiter. It is important to emphasise the nature and limits of the committee's role, since the wider issues raised by this appeal are the subject of profound and fully justified concern to very many people. The questions whether the terminally ill, or others, should be free to seek assistance in taking their own lives, and if so in what circumstances and subject to what safeguards, are of great social, ethical and religious significance and are questions on which widely differing beliefs and views are held, often strongly. Materials laid before the committee (with its leave) express some of those views; many others have been expressed in the news media, professional journals and elsewhere. The task of the committee in this appeal is not to weigh or evaluate or reflect those beliefs and views or give effect to its own but to ascertain and apply the law of the land as it is now understood to be.
Article 2 of the Convention
3.. Article 2 of the Convention provides: ...
The Article is to be read in conjunction with Articles 1 and 2 of the Sixth Protocol, which are among the Convention rights protected by the 1998 Act (see section 1(1)(c)) and which abolished the death penalty in time of peace.
4.. On behalf of Mrs Pretty it is submitted that Article 2 protects not life itself but the right to life. The purpose of the Article is to protect individuals from third parties (the State and public authorities). But the Article recognises that it is for the individual to choose whether or not to live and so protects the individual's right to self-determination in relation to issues of life and death. Thus a person may refuse life-saving or life-prolonging medical treatment, and may lawfully choose to commit suicide. The Article acknowledges that right of the individual. While most people want to live, some want to die, and the Article protects both rights. The right to die is not the antithesis of the right to life but the corollary of it, and the State has a positive obligation to protect both.
5.. The Secretary of State has advanced a number of unanswerable objections to this argument which were rightly upheld by the Divisional Court. The starting point must be the language of the Article. The thrust of this is to reflect the sanctity which, particularly in western eyes, attaches to life. The Article protects the right to life and prevents the deliberate taking of life save in very narrowly defined circumstances. An Article with that effect cannot be interpreted as conferring a right to die or to enlist the aid of another in bringing about one's own death. In his argument for Mrs Pretty, Mr Havers QC was at pains to limit his argument to assisted suicide, accepting that the right claimed could not extend to cover an intentional consensual killing (usually described in this context as 'voluntary euthanasia', but regarded in English law as murder). The right claimed would be sufficient to cover Mrs Pretty's case and counsel's unwillingness to go further is understandable. But there is in logic no justification for drawing a line at this point. If Article 2 does confer a right to self-determination in relation to life and death, and if a person were so gravely disabled as to be unable to perform any act whatever to cause his or her own death, it would necessarily follow in logic that such a person would have a right to be killed at the hands of a third party without giving any help to the third party and the State would be in breach of the Convention if it were to interfere with the exercise of that right. No such right can possibly be derived from an Article having the object already defined.
6.. It is true that some of the guaranteed Convention rights have been interpreted as conferring rights not to do that which is the antithesis of what there is an express right to do. Article 11, for example, confers a right not to join an association (Young, James and Webster v. United Kingdom (1981) 4 EHRR 38), Article 9 embraces a right to freedom from any compulsion to express thoughts or change an opinion or divulge convictions (Clayton and Tomlinson, The Law of Human Rights (2000), p. 974, para. 14.49) and I would for my part be inclined to infer that Article 12 confers a right not to marry (but see Clayton and Tomlinson, ibid., p. 913, para. 13.76). It cannot however be suggested (to take some obvious examples) that Articles 3, 4, 5 and 6 confer an implied right to do or experience the opposite of that which the Articles guarantee. Whatever the benefits which, in the view of many, attach to voluntary euthanasia, suicide, physician-assisted suicide and suicide assisted without the intervention of a physician, these are not benefits which derive protection from an Article framed to protect the sanctity of life.
7.. There is no Convention authority to support Mrs Pretty's argument. To the extent that there is any relevant authority it is adverse to her. In Osman v. United Kingdom (1998) 29 EHRR 245 the applicants complained of a failure by the United Kingdom to protect the right to life of the second applicant and his deceased father. At p. 305 the court said:
'115. The Court notes that the first sentence of Article 2(1) enjoins the State not only to refrain from the intentional and unlawful taking of life, but also to take appropriate steps to safeguard the lives of those within its jurisdiction. It is common ground that the State's obligation in this respect extends beyond its primary duty to secure the right to life by putting in place effective criminal law provisions to deter the commission of offences against the person backed up by law-enforcement machinery for the prevention, suppression and sanctioning of breaches of such provisions. It is thus accepted by those appearing before the Court that Article 2 of the Convention may also imply in certain well-defined circumstances a positive obligation on the authorities to take preventive operational measures to protect an individual whose life is at risk from the criminal acts of another individual. The scope of this obligation is a matter of dispute between the parties.116. For the Court, and bearing in mind the difficulties involved in policing modern societies, the unpredictability of human conduct and the operational choices which must be made in terms of priorities and resources, such an obligation must be interpreted in a way which does not impose an impossible or disproportionate burden on the authorities. Accordingly, not every claimed risk to life can entail for the authorities a Convention requirement to take operational measures to prevent that risk from materialising. Another relevant consideration is the need to ensure that the police exercise their powers to control and prevent crime in a manner which fully respects the due process and other guarantees which legitimately place restraints on the scope of their action to investigate crime and bring offenders to justice, including the guarantees contained in Articles 5 and 8 of the Convention.'
The context of that case was very different. Neither the second applicant nor his father had had any wish to die. But the court's approach to Article 2 was entirely consistent with the interpretation I have put upon it.
8.. X v. Germany (1984) 7 EHRR 152 and Keenan v. United Kingdom (App. No. 27229/95; 3 April 2001, unreported) were also decided in a factual context very different from the present. X, while in prison, had gone on hunger strike and had been forcibly fed by the prison authorities. His complaint was of maltreatment contrary to Article 3 of the Convention, considered below. The complaint was rejected and in the course of its reasoning the commission held (at pp. 153-154):
'In the opinion of the Commission forced feeding of a person does involve degrading elements which in certain circumstances may be regarded as prohibited by Art. 3 of the Convention. Under the Convention the High Contracting Parties are, however, also obliged to secure to everyone the right to life as set out in Art. 2. Such an obligation should in certain circumstances call for positive action on the part of the Contracting Parties, in particular an active measure to save lives when the authorities have taken the person in question into their custody. When, as in the present case, a detained person maintains a hunger strike this may inevitably lead to a conflict between an individual's right to physical integrity and the High Contracting Party's obligation under Art. 2 of the Convention – a conflict which is not solved by the Convention itself. The Commission recalls that under German law this conflict has been solved in that it is possible to force-feed a detained person if this person, due to a hunger strike, would be subject to injuries of a permanent character, and the forced feeding is even obligatory if an obvious danger for the individual's life exists. The assessment of the above-mentioned conditions is left for the doctor in charge but an eventual decision to force-feed may only be carried out after judicial permission has been obtained ... The Commission is satisfied that the authorities acted solely in the best interests of the applicant when choosing between either respect for the applicant's will not to accept nourishment of any kind and thereby incur the risk that he might be subject to lasting injuries or even die, or to take action with a view to securing his survival although such action might infringe the applicant's human dignity.'
In Keenan a young prisoner had committed suicide and his mother complained of a failure by the prison authorities to protect his life. In the course of its judgment rejecting the complaint under this Article the court said (at p. 29, para. 90):'In the context of prisoners, the Court has had previous occasion to emphasise that persons in custody are in a vulnerable position and that the authorities are under a duty to protect them. It is incumbent on the State to account for any injuries suffered in custody, which obligation is particularly stringent where that individual dies ... It may be noted that this need for scrutiny is acknowledged in the domestic law of England and Wales, where inquests are automatically held concerning the deaths of persons in prison and where the domestic courts have imposed a duty of care on prison authorities in respect of those detained in their custody.'
Both these cases can be distinguished, since the conduct complained of took place when the victim was in the custody of the State, which accordingly had a special responsibility for the victim's welfare. It may readily be accepted that the obligation of the State to safeguard the life of a potential victim is enhanced when the latter is in the custody of the State. To that extent these two cases are different from the present, since Mrs Pretty is not in the custody of the State. Thus the State's positive obligation to protect the life of Mrs Pretty is weaker than in such cases. It would however be a very large, and in my view quite impermissible, step to proceed from acceptance of that proposition to acceptance of the assertion that the State has a duty to recognise a right for Mrs Pretty to be assisted to take her own life.
9.. In the Convention field the authority of domestic decisions is necessarily limited and, as already noted, Mrs Pretty bases her case on the Convention. But it is worthy of note that her argument is inconsistent with two principles deeply embedded in English law. The first is a distinction between the taking of one's own life by one's own act and the taking of life through the intervention or with the help of a third party. The former has been permissible since suicide ceased to be a crime in 1961. The latter has continued to be proscribed. The distinction was very clearly expressed by Hoffmann LJ in Airedale NHS Trust v. Bland  AC 789 at 831:
'No one in this case is suggesting that Anthony Bland should be given a lethal injection. But there is concern about ceasing to supply food as against, for example, ceasing to treat an infection with antibiotics. Is there any real distinction? In order to come to terms with our intuitive feelings about whether there is a distinction, I must start by considering why most of us would be appalled if he was given a lethal injection. It is, I think, connected with our view that the sanctity of life entails its inviolability by an outsider. Subject to exceptions like self-defence, human life is inviolate even if the person in question has consented to its violation. That is why although suicide is not a crime, assisting someone to commit suicide is. It follows that, even if we think Anthony Bland would have consented, we would not be entitled to end his life by a lethal injection.'
The second distinction is between the cessation of life-saving or life-prolonging treatment on the one hand and the taking of action lacking medical, therapeutic or palliative justification but intended solely to terminate life on the other. This distinction provided the rationale of the decisions in Bland. It was very succinctly expressed in the Court of Appeal in In re J (A Minor) (Wardship: Medical Treatment)  Fam 33, in which Lord Donaldson of Lymington MR said, at p. 46:'What doctors and the court have to decide is whether, in the best interests of the child patient, a particular decision as to medical treatment should be taken which as a side effect will render death more or less likely. This is not a matter of semantics. It is fundamental. At the other end of the age spectrum, the use of drugs to reduce pain will often be fully justified, notwithstanding that this will hasten the moment of death. What can never be justified is the use of drugs or surgical procedures with the primary purpose of doing so.'
Similar observations were made by Balcombe LJ at p. 51 and Taylor LJ at p. 53. While these distinctions are in no way binding on the European Court of Human Rights there is nothing to suggest that they are inconsistent with the jurisprudence which has grown up around the Convention. It is not enough for Mrs Pretty to show that the United Kingdom would not be acting inconsistently with the Convention if it were to permit assisted suicide; she must go further and establish that the United Kingdom is in breach of the Convention by failing to permit it or would be in breach of the Convention if it did not permit it. Such a contention is in my opinion untenable, as the Divisional Court rightly held.Article 3 of the Convention
10.. Article 3 of the Convention provides: ...
This is one of the Articles from which a member State may not derogate even in time of war or other public emergency threatening the life of the nation: see Article 15. I shall for convenience use the expression 'proscribed treatment' to mean 'inhuman or degrading treatment' as that expression is used in the Convention.
11.. In brief summary the argument for Mrs Pretty proceeded by these steps.
(1) Member States have an absolute and unqualified obligation not to inflict the proscribed treatment and also to take positive action to prevent the subjection of individuals to such treatment: A. v. United Kingdom (1998) 27 EHRR 611; Z v. United Kingdom  2 FLR 612 at 631, para. 73.(2) Suffering attributable to the progression of a disease may amount to such treatment if the State can prevent or ameliorate such suffering and does not do so: D. v. United Kingdom (1997) 24 EHRR 423, at pp. 446-449, paras. 46-54.(3) In denying Mrs Pretty the opportunity to bring her suffering to an end the United Kingdom (by the Director) will subject her to the proscribed treatment. The State can spare Mrs Pretty the suffering which she will otherwise endure since, if the Director undertakes not to give his consent to prosecution, Mr Pretty will assist his wife to commit suicide and so she will be spared much suffering.(4) Since, as the Divisional Court held, it is open to the United Kingdom under the Convention to refrain from prohibiting assisted suicide, the Director can give the undertaking sought without breaking the United Kingdom's obligations under the Convention.(5) If the Director may not give the undertaking, section 2 of the 1961 Act is incompatible with the Convention.
12.. For the Secretary of State it was submitted that in the present case Article 3 of the Convention is not engaged at all but that if any of the rights protected by that Article are engaged they do not include a right to die. In support of the first of these submissions it was argued that there is in the present case no breach of the prohibition in the Article. The negative prohibition in the Article is absolute and unqualified but the positive obligations which flow from it are not absolute: see Osman v. United Kingdom, above; Rees v. United Kingdom (1986) 9 EHRR 56. While States may be obliged to protect the life and health of a person in custody (as in the case of Keenan, above), and to ensure that individuals are not subjected to proscribed treatment at the hands of private individuals other than State agents (as in A. v. United Kingdom, above), and the State may not take direct action in relation to an individual which would inevitably involve the inflicting of proscribed treatment upon him (D. v. United Kingdom (1997) 24 EHRR 423), none of these obligations can be invoked by Mrs Pretty in the present case. In support of the second submission it was argued that, far from suggesting that the State is under a duty to provide medical care to ease her condition and prolong her life, Mrs Pretty is arguing that the State is under a legal obligation to sanction a lawful means for terminating her life. There is nothing, either in the wording of the Convention or the Strasbourg jurisprudence, to suggest that any such duty exists by virtue of Article 3. The decision how far the State should go in discharge of its positive obligation to protect individuals from proscribed treatment is one for member States, taking account of all relevant interests and considerations; such a decision, while not immune from review, must be accorded respect. The United Kingdom has reviewed these issues in depth and resolved to maintain the present position.
13.. Article 3 enshrines one of the fundamental values of democratic societies and its prohibition of the proscribed treatment is absolute: D. v. United Kingdom (1997) 24 EHRR 423 at p. 447, para. 47. Article 3 is, as I think, complementary to Article 2. As Article 2 requires States to respect and safeguard the lives of individuals within their jurisdiction, so Article 3 obliges them to respect the physical and human integrity of such individuals. There is in my opinion nothing in Article 3 which bears on an individual's right to live or to choose not to live. That is not its sphere of application; indeed, as is clear from X v. Germany above, a State may on occasion be justified in inflicting treatment which would otherwise be in breach of Article 3 in order to serve the ends of Article 2. Moreover, the absolute and unqualified prohibition on a member State inflicting the proscribed treatment requires that 'treatment' should not be given an unrestricted or extravagant meaning. It cannot, in my opinion, be plausibly suggested that the Director or any other agent of the United Kingdom is inflicting the proscribed treatment on Mrs Pretty, whose suffering derives from her cruel disease.
14.. The authority most helpful to Mrs Pretty is D. v. United Kingdom (1997) 24 EHRR 423, which concerned the removal to St Kitts of a man in the later stages of AIDS. The Convention challenge was to implementation of the removal decision having regard to the applicant's medical condition, the absence of facilities to provide adequate treatment, care or support in St Kitts and the disruption of a regime in the United Kingdom which had afforded him sophisticated treatment and medication in a compassionate environment. It was held that implementation of the decision to remove the applicant to St Kitts would amount in the circumstances to inhuman treatment by the United Kingdom in violation of Article 3. In that case the State was proposing to take direct action against the applicant, the inevitable effect of which would be a severe increase in his suffering and a shortening of his life. The proposed deportation could fairly be regarded as 'treatment'. An analogy might be found in the present case if a public official had forbidden the provision to Mrs Pretty of pain-killing or palliative drugs. But here the proscribed treatment is said to be the Director's refusal of proleptic immunity from prosecution to Mr Pretty if he commits a crime. By no legitimate process of interpretation can that refusal be held to fall within the negative prohibition of Article 3.
15.. If it be assumed that Article 3 is capable of being applied at all to a case such as the present, and also that on the facts there is no arguable breach of the negative prohibition in the Article, the question arises whether the United Kingdom (by the Director) is in breach of its positive obligation to take action to prevent the subjection of individuals to proscribed treatment. In this context, the obligation of the State is not absolute and unqualified. So much appears from the passage quoted in paragraph 7 above from the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Osman v. United Kingdom. The same principle was acknowledged by the court in Rees v. United Kingdom (1986) 9 EHRR 56 where it said in para. 37 of its judgment at pp. 63-64:
'37. As the Court pointed out in its above-mentioned Abdulaziz, Cabales and Balkandali judgment the notion of "respect" is not clear-cut, especially as far as those positive obligations are concerned: having regard to the diversity of the practices followed and the situations obtaining in the Contracting States, the notion's requirements will vary considerably from case to case.These observations are particularly relevant here. Several States have, through legislation or by means of legal interpretation or by administrative practice, given transsexuals the option of changing their personal status to fit their newly-gained identity. They have, however, made this option subject to conditions of varying strictness and retained a number of express reservations (for example, as to previously incurred obligations). In other States, such an option does not – or does not yet – exist. It would therefore be true to say that there is at present little common ground between the Contracting States in this area and that, generally speaking, the law appears to be in a transitional stage. Accordingly, this is an area in which the Contracting Parties enjoy a wide margin of appreciation.In determining whether or not a positive obligation exists, regard must be had to the fair balance that has to be struck between the general interest of the community and the interests of the individual, the search for which balance is inherent in the whole of the Convention. In striking this balance the aims mentioned in the second paragraph of Article 8 may be of a certain relevance, although this provision refers in terms only to "interferences" with the right protected by the first paragraph – in other words is concerned with the negative obligations flowing therefrom.'
That was an Article 8 case, dealing with a very different subject matter from the present, but the court's observations were of more general import. It stands to reason that while States may be absolutely forbidden to inflict the proscribed treatment on individuals within their jurisdictions, the steps appropriate or necessary to discharge a positive obligation will be more judgmental, more prone to variation from State to State, more dependent on the opinions and beliefs of the people and less susceptible to any universal injunction. For reasons more fully given in paragraphs 27 and 28 below, it could not in my view be said that the United Kingdom is under a positive obligation to ensure that a competent, terminally ill, person who wishes but is unable to take his or her own life should be entitled to seek the assistance of another without that other being exposed to the risk of prosecution.Article 8 of the Convention
16.. Article 8 of the Convention provides: ...
17.. Counsel for Mrs Pretty submitted that this Article conferred a right to self-determination: see X and Y v. Netherlands (1985) 8 EHRR 235; Rodriguez v. Attorney General of Canada  2 LRC 136; In re A (Children) (Conjoined Twins: Surgical Separation)  Fam 147. This right embraces a right to choose when and how to die so that suffering and indignity can be avoided. Section 2(1) of the 1961 Act interferes with this right of self-determination: it is therefore for the United Kingdom to show that the interference meets the Convention tests of legality, necessity, responsiveness to pressing social need and proportionality: see R. v. A. (No. 2)  2 WLR 1546; Johansen v. Norway (1996) 23 EHRR 33; R. (P) v. Secretary of State for the Home Department  1 WLR 2002. Where the interference is with an intimate part of an individual's private life, there must be particularly serious reasons to justify the interference: Smith and Grady v. United Kingdom (1999) 29 EHRR 493 at p. 530, para. 89. The court must in this case rule whether it could be other than disproportionate for the Director to refuse to give the undertaking sought and, in the case of the Secretary of State, whether the interference with Mrs Pretty's right to self-determination is proportionate to whatever legitimate aim the prohibition on assisted suicide pursues. Counsel placed particular reliance on certain features of Mrs Pretty's case: her mental competence, the frightening prospect which faces her, her willingness to commit suicide if she were able, the imminence of death, the absence of harm to anyone else, the absence of far-reaching implications if her application were granted. Counsel suggested that the blanket prohibition in section 2(1), applied without taking account of particular cases, is wholly disproportionate, and the materials relied on do not justify it. Reference was made to R. v. United Kingdom (1983) 33 DR 270 and Sanles v. Spain  EHRLR 348.
18.. The Secretary of State questioned whether Mrs Pretty's rights under Article 8 were engaged at all, and gave a negative answer. He submitted that the right to private life under Article 8 relates to the manner in which a person conducts his life, not the manner in which he departs from it. Any attempt to base a right to die on Article 8 founders on exactly the same objection as the attempt based on Article 2, namely, that the alleged right would extinguish the very benefit on which it is supposedly based. Article 8 protects the physical, moral and psychological integrity of the individual, including rights over the individual's own body, but there is nothing to suggest that it confers a right to decide when or how to die. The Secretary of State also submitted that, if it were necessary to do so, section 2(1) of the 1961 Act and the current application of it could be fully justified on the merits. He referred to the margin of judgment accorded to member States, the consideration which has been given to these questions in the United Kingdom and the broad consensus among Convention countries. Attention was drawn to Laskey, Jaggard and Brown v. United Kingdom (1997) 24 EHRR 39 in which the criminalisation of consensual acts of injury was held to be justified; it was suggested that the justification for criminalising acts of consensual killing or assisted suicide must be even stronger.
19.. The most detailed and erudite discussion known to me of the issues in the present appeal is to be found in the judgments of the Supreme Court of Canada in Rodriguez v. Attorney General of Canada  2 LRC 136. The appellant in that case suffered from a disease legally indistinguishable from that which afflicts Mrs Pretty; she was similarly disabled; she sought an order which would allow a qualified medical practitioner to set up technological means by which she might, by her own hand but with that assistance from the practitioner, end her life at a time of her choosing. While suicide in Canada was not a crime, section 241(b) of the Criminal Code was in terms effectively identical to section 2(1) of the 1961 Act. The appellant based her claims on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which, so far as relevant, included the following sections:
'(1) The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.(7) Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.(12) Everyone has the right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.(15) (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.'
The trial judge rejected Ms Rodriguez' claim, because (as his judgment was summarised at p. 144):'It was the illness from which Ms Rodriguez suffers, not the State or the justice system, which has impeded her ability to act on her wishes with respect to the timing and manner of her death.'
He found no breach of section 12 and said:'To interpret section 7 so as to include a constitutionally guaranteed right to take one's own life as an exercise in freedom of choice is inconsistent, in my opinion, with life, liberty and the security of the person.'
He also held that section 241 did not discriminate against the physically disabled.
20.. The British Columbia Court of Appeal held by a majority (at p. 148) that whilst the operation of section 241 did deprive Ms Rodriguez of her section 7 right to the security of her person, it did not contravene the principles of fundamental justice. McEachern CJ, dissenting, held (at p. 146) that there was a prima facie violation of section 7 when the State imposed prohibitions that had the effect of prolonging the physical and psychological suffering of a person, and that any provision that imposed an indeterminate period of senseless physical and psychological suffering on someone who was shortly to die anyway could not conform with any principle of fundamental justice.
21.. In the Supreme Court opinion was again divided. The judgment of the majority was given by Sopinka J, with La Forest, Gonthier, Iacobucci and Major JJ concurring. In the course of his judgment Sopinka J said (at p. 175):
'As a threshold issue, I do not accept the submission that the appellant's problems are due to her physical disabilities caused by her terminal illness, and not by governmental action. There is no doubt that the prohibition in section 241(b) will contribute to the appellant's distress if she is prevented from managing her death in the circumstances which she fears will occur.'
He continued (p. 175):'I find more merit in the argument that security of the person, by its nature, cannot encompass a right to take action that will end one's life as security of the person is intrinsically concerned with the well-being of the living person.'
He then continued (at pp. 177-178):'There is no question, then, that personal autonomy, at least with respect to the right to make choices concerning one's own body, control over one's physical and psychological integrity, and basic human dignity are encompassed within security of the person, at least to the extent of freedom from criminal prohibitions which interfere with these. The effect of the prohibition in section 241(b) is to prevent the appellant from having assistance to commit suicide when she is no longer able to do so on her own ... In my view, these considerations lead to the conclusion that the prohibition in section 241(b) deprives the appellant of autonomy over her person and causes her physical pain and psychological stress in a manner which impinges on the security of her person. The appellant's security interest (considered in the context of the life and liberty interest) is therefore engaged, and it is necessary to determine whether there has been any deprivation thereof that is not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.'
He concluded (at p. 189) that:'Given the concerns about abuse that have been expressed and the great difficulty in creating appropriate safeguards to prevent these, it can not be said that the blanket prohibition on assisted suicide is arbitrary or unfair, or that it is not reflective of fundamental values at play in our society.'
With reference to section 1 of the Canadian Charter, Sopinka J said (at pp. 192-193):'As I have sought to demonstrate in my discussion of section 7, this protection is grounded on a substantial consensus among western countries, medical organisations and our own Law Reform Commission that in order to effectively protect life and those who are vulnerable in society, a prohibition without exception on the giving of assistance to commit suicide is the best approach. Attempts to fine-tune this approach by creating exceptions have been unsatisfactory and have tended to support the theory of the "slippery slope". The formulation of safeguards to prevent excesses has been unsatisfactory and has failed to allay fears that a relaxation of the clear standard set by the law will undermine the protection of life and will lead to abuse of the exception.'
He rejected the appellant's claims under sections 12 and 15.
22.. Lamer CJ dissented in favour of the appellant, but on grounds of discrimination under section 15 alone. McLachlin J (with whom L'Heureux-Dubé J concurred) found a violation not of section 15 but of section 7. She saw the case as one about the manner in which the State might limit the right of a person to make decisions about her body under section 7 of the charter (p. 194). At p. 195 she said:
'In the present case, Parliament has put into force a legislative scheme which does not bar suicide but criminalises the act of assisting suicide. The effect of this is to deny to some people the choice of ending their lives solely because they are physically unable to do so. This deprives Sue Rodriguez of her security of the person (the right to make decisions concerning her own body, which affect only her own body) in a way that offends the principles of fundamental justice, thereby violating section 7 of the Charter ... It is part of the persona and dignity of the human being that he or she have the autonomy to decide what is best for his or her body.'
She held (p. 197) that'it does not accord with the principles of fundamental justice that Sue Rodriguez be disallowed what is available to others merely because it is possible that other people, at some other time, may suffer, not what she seeks, but an act of killing without true consent.'
Cory J also dissented, agreeing with Lamer CJ and also McLachlin J.
23.. It is evident that all save one of the judges of the Canadian Supreme Court were willing to recognise section 7 of the Canadian charter as conferring a right to personal autonomy extending even to decisions on life and death. Mrs Pretty understandably places reliance in particular on the judgment of McLachlin J, in which two other members of the court concurred. But a majority of the court regarded that right as outweighed on the facts by the principles of fundamental justice. The judgments were moreover directed to a provision with no close analogy in the European Convention. In the European Convention the right to liberty and security of the person appears only in Article 5 § 1, on which no reliance is or could be placed in the present case. Article 8 contains no reference to personal liberty or security. It is directed to the protection of privacy, including the protection of physical and psychological integrity: X and Y v. Netherlands, above. But Article 8 is expressed in terms directed to protection of personal autonomy while individuals are living their lives, and there is nothing to suggest that the Article has reference to the choice to live no longer.
24.. There is no Strasbourg jurisprudence to support the contention of Mrs Pretty. In R. v. United Kingdom (1983) 33 DR 270 the applicant had been convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for aiding and abetting suicide and conspiring to do so. He complained that his conviction and sentence under section 2 of the 1961 Act constituted a violation of his right to respect for his private life under Article 8 and also his right to free expression under Article 10. In paragraph 13 of its decision the commission observed:
'The Commission does not consider that the activity for which the applicant was convicted, namely aiding and abetting suicide, can be described as falling into the sphere of his private life in the manner elaborated above. While it might be thought to touch directly on the private lives of those who sought to commit suicide, it does not follow that the applicant's rights to privacy are involved. On the contrary, the Commission is of the opinion that the acts of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring suicide are excluded from the concept of privacy by virtue of their trespass on the public interest of protecting life, as reflected in the criminal provisions of the 1961 Act.'
This somewhat tentative expression of view is of some assistance to Mrs Pretty, but with reference to the claim under Article 10 the commission continued (in para. 17 of its decision at p. 272):'The Commission considers that, in the circumstances of the case, there has been an interference with the applicant's right to impart information. However, the Commission must take account of the State's legitimate interest in this area in taking measures to protect, against criminal behaviour, the life of its citizens particularly those who belong to especially vulnerable categories by reason of their age or infirmity. It recognises the right of the State under the Convention to guard against the inevitable criminal abuses that would occur, in the absence of legislation, against the aiding and abetting of suicide. The fact that in the present case the applicant and his associate appear to have been well intentioned does not, in the Commission's view, alter the justification for the general policy.'
That conclusion cannot be reconciled with the suggestion that the prohibition of assisted suicide is inconsistent with the Convention.
25.. Sanles v. Spain  EHRLR 348 arose from a factual situation similar to the present save that the victim of disabling disease had died and the case never culminated in a decision on the merits. The applicant was the sister-in-law of the deceased and was held not to be a victim and thus not to be directly affected by the alleged violations. It is of some interest that she based her claims on Articles 2, 3, 5, 9 and 14 of the Convention but not, it seems, on Article 8.
26.. I would for my part accept the Secretary of State's submission that Mrs Pretty's rights under Article 8 are not engaged at all. If, however, that conclusion is wrong, and the prohibition of assisted suicide in section 2 of the 1961 Act infringes her Convention right under Article 8, it is necessary to consider whether the infringement is shown by the Secretary of State to be justifiable under the terms of Article 8 § 2. In considering that question I would adopt the test advocated by counsel for Mrs Pretty, which is clearly laid down in the authorities cited.
27.. Since suicide ceased to be a crime in 1961, the question whether assisted suicide also should be decriminalised has been reviewed on more than one occasion. The Criminal Law Revision Committee in its Fourteenth Report (1980, Cmnd 7844) reported some divergence of opinion among its distinguished legal membership, and recognised a distinction between assisting a person who had formed a settled intention to kill himself and the more heinous case where one person persuaded another to commit suicide, but a majority was of the clear opinion that aiding and abetting suicide should remain an offence (pp. 60-61, para. 135).
28.. Following the decision in Airedale NHS Trust v. Bland  AC 789 a much more broadly constituted House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics received extensive evidence and reported. The Committee in its report (HL 21-1, 1994, p. 11, para. 26) drew a distinction between assisted suicide and physician-assisted suicide but its conclusion was unambiguous (p. 54, para. 262):
'As far as assisted suicide is concerned, we see no reason to recommend any change in the law. We identify no circumstances in which assisted suicide should be permitted, nor do we see any reason to distinguish between the act of a doctor or of any other person in this connection.'
The government in its response (May 1994, Cm 2553) accepted this recommendation:'We agree with this recommendation. As the Government stated in its evidence to the Committee, the decriminalisation of attempted suicide in 1961 was accompanied by an unequivocal restatement of the prohibition of acts calculated to end the life of another person. The Government can see no basis for permitting assisted suicide. Such a change would be open to abuse and put the lives of the weak and vulnerable at risk.'
A similar approach is to be found in the Council of Europe's Recommendation 1418 (1999) on the protection of the human rights and dignity of the terminally ill and the dying. This included the following passage (at pp. 2-4):'9. The Assembly therefore recommends that the Committee of Ministers encourage the member States of the Council of Europe to respect and protect the dignity of terminally ill or dying persons in all respects: ...(c) by upholding the prohibition against intentionally taking the life of terminally ill or dying persons, while:(i) recognising that the right to life, especially with regard to a terminally ill or dying person, is guaranteed by the member States, in accordance with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights which states that "no one shall be deprived of his life intentionally";(ii) recognising that a terminally ill or dying person's wish to die never constitutes any legal claim to die at the hand of another person;(iii) recognising that a terminally ill or dying person's wish to die cannot of itself constitute a legal justification to carry out actions intended to bring about death.'
It would be by no means fatal to the legal validity of section 2(1) of the 1961 Act if the response of the United Kingdom to this problem of assisted suicide were shown to be unique, but it is shown to be in accordance with a very broad international consensus. Assisted suicide and consensual killing are unlawful in all Convention countries except the Netherlands, but even if the Dutch Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act 2001 and the Dutch Criminal Code were operative in this country it would not relieve Mr Pretty of liability under Article 294 of the Dutch Criminal Code if he were to assist Mrs Pretty to take her own life as he would wish to do.
29.. On behalf of Mrs Pretty counsel disclaims any general attack on section 2(1) of the 1961 Act and seeks to restrict his claim to the particular facts of her case: that of a mentally competent adult who knows her own mind, is free from any pressure and has made a fully informed and voluntary decision. Whatever the need, he submits, to afford legal protection to the vulnerable, there is no justification for a blanket refusal to countenance an act of humanity in the case of someone who, like Mrs Pretty, is not vulnerable at all. Beguiling as that submission is, Dr Johnson gave two answers of enduring validity to it. First, 'Laws are not made for particular cases but for men in general.' Second, 'To permit a law to be modified at discretion is to leave the community without law. It is to withdraw the direction of that public wisdom by which the deficiencies of private understanding are to be supplied' (Boswell, Life of Johnson, Oxford Standard Authors, 3rd ed., 1970, at pp. 735, 496). It is for member States to assess the risk and likely incidence of abuse if the prohibition on assisted suicide were relaxed, as the commission recognised in its decision in R. v. United Kingdom quoted above in paragraph 24. But the risk is one which cannot be lightly discounted. The Criminal Law Revision Committee recognised how fine was the line between counselling and procuring on the one hand and aiding and abetting on the other (report, p. 61, para. 135). The House of Lords Select Committee recognised the undesirability of anything which could appear to encourage suicide (report, p. 49, para. 239):
'We are also concerned that vulnerable people – the elderly, lonely, sick or distressed – would feel pressure, whether real or imagined, to request early death. We accept that, for the most part, requests resulting from such pressure or from remediable depressive illness would be identified as such by doctors and managed appropriately. Nevertheless we believe that the message which society sends to vulnerable and disadvantaged people should not, however obliquely, encourage them to seek death, but should assure them of our care and support in life.'
It is not hard to imagine that an elderly person, in the absence of any pressure, might opt for a premature end to life if that were available, not from a desire to die or a willingness to stop living, but from a desire to stop being a burden to others.
30.. If section 2(1) infringes any Convention right of Mrs Pretty, and recognising the heavy burden which lies on a member State seeking to justify such an infringement, I conclude that the Secretary of State has shown ample grounds to justify the existing law and the current application of it. That is not to say that no other law or application would be consistent with the Convention; it is simply to say that the present legislative and practical regime do not offend the Convention.
Article 9 of the Convention
31.. It is unnecessary to recite the terms of Article 9 of the Convention, to which very little argument was addressed. It is an Article which protects freedom of thought, conscience and religion and the manifestation of religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice or observance. One may accept that Mrs Pretty has a sincere belief in the virtue of assisted suicide. She is free to hold and express that belief. But her belief cannot found a requirement that her husband should be absolved from the consequences of conduct which, although it would be consistent with her belief, is proscribed by the criminal law. And if she were able to establish an infringement of her right, the justification shown by the State in relation to Article 8 would still defeat it.
Article 14 of the Convention
32.. Article 14 of the Convention provides: ...
Mrs Pretty claims that section 2(1) of the 1961 Act discriminates against those who, like herself, cannot because of incapacity take their own lives without assistance. She relies on the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Thlimmenos v. Greece (2000) 31 EHRR 411 where the court said (at p. 424, para. 44):'The Court has so far considered that the right under Article 14 not to be discriminated against in the enjoyment of the rights guaranteed under the Convention is violated when States treat differently persons in analogous situations without providing an objective and reasonable justification. However, the Court considers that this is not the only facet of the prohibition of discrimination in Article 14. The right not to be discriminated against in the enjoyment of the rights guaranteed under the Convention is also violated when States without an objective and reasonable justification fail to treat differently persons whose situations are significantly different.'
33.. The European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly held that Article 14 is not autonomous but has effect only in relation to Convention rights. As it was put in Van Raalte v. Netherlands (1997) 24 EHRR 503 at p. 516, para. 33:
'As the Court has consistently held, Article 14 of the Convention complements the other substantive provisions of the Convention and the Protocols. It has no independent existence since it has effect solely in relation to "the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms" safeguarded by those provisions. Although the application of Article 14 does not presuppose a breach of those provisions – and to this extent it is autonomous – there can be no room for its application unless the facts at issue fall within the ambit of one or more of the latter.'
See also Botta v. Italy (1998) 26 EHRR 241 at p. 259, para. 39.
34.. If, as I have concluded, none of the Articles on which Mrs Pretty relies gives her the right which she has claimed, it follows that Article 14 would not avail her even if she could establish that the operation of section 2(1) is discriminatory. A claim under this Article must fail on this ground.
35.. If, contrary to my opinion, Mrs Pretty's rights under one or other of the Articles are engaged, it would be necessary to examine whether section 2(1) of the 1961 Act is discriminatory. She contends that the section is discriminatory because it prevents the disabled, but not the able-bodied, exercising their right to commit suicide. This argument is in my opinion based on a misconception. The law confers no right to commit suicide. Suicide was always, as a crime, anomalous, since it was the only crime with which no defendant could ever be charged. The main effect of the criminalisation of suicide was to penalise those who attempted to take their own lives and failed, and secondary parties. Suicide itself (and with it attempted suicide) was decriminalised because recognition of the common law offence was not thought to act as a deterrent, because it cast an unwarranted stigma on innocent members of the suicide's family and because it led to the distasteful result that patients recovering in hospital from a failed suicide attempt were prosecuted, in effect, for their lack of success. But while the 1961 Act abrogated the rule of law whereby it was a crime for a person to commit (or attempt to commit) suicide, it conferred no right on anyone to do so. Had that been its object there would have been no justification for penalising by a potentially very long term of imprisonment one who aided, abetted, counselled or procured the exercise or attempted exercise by another of that right. The policy of the law remained firmly adverse to suicide, as section 2(1) makes clear.
36.. The criminal law cannot in any event be criticised as objectionably discriminatory because it applies to all. Although in some instances criminal statutes recognise exceptions based on youth, the broad policy of the criminal law is to apply offence-creating provisions to all and to give weight to personal circumstances either at the stage of considering whether or not to prosecute or, in the event of conviction, when penalty is to be considered. The criminal law does not ordinarily distinguish between willing victims and others: Laskey Jaggard and Brown v. United Kingdom (1997) 24 EHRR 39. Provisions criminalising drunkenness or misuse of drugs or theft do not exempt those addicted to alcohol or drugs, or the poor and hungry. 'Mercy killing', as it is often called, is in law killing. If the criminal law sought to proscribe the conduct of those who assisted the suicide of the vulnerable, but exonerated those who assisted the suicide of the non-vulnerable, it could not be administered fairly and in a way which would command respect.
37.. For these reasons, which are in all essentials those of the Divisional Court, and in agreement with my noble and learned friends Lord Steyn and Lord Hope of Craighead, I would hold that Mrs Pretty cannot establish any breach of any Convention right.The claim against the Director
38.. That conclusion makes it strictly unnecessary to review the main ground on which the Director resisted the claim made against him: that he had no power to grant the undertaking which Mrs Pretty sought.
39.. I would for my part question whether, as suggested on his behalf, the Director might not if so advised make a public statement on his prosecuting policy other than in the Code for Crown Prosecutors which he is obliged to issue by section 10 of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985. Plainly such a step would call for careful consultation and extreme circumspection, and could be taken only under the superintendence of the Attorney General (by virtue of section 3 of the 1985 Act). The Lord Advocate has on occasion made such a statement in Scotland, and I am not persuaded that the Director has no such power. It is, however, unnecessary to explore or resolve that question, since whether or not the Director has the power to make such a statement he has no duty to do so, and in any event what was asked of the Director in this case was not a statement of prosecuting policy but a proleptic grant of immunity from prosecution. That, I am quite satisfied, the Director had no power to give. The power to dispense with and suspend laws and the execution of laws without the consent of Parliament was denied to the crown and its servants by the Bill of Rights 1688. Even if, contrary to my opinion, the Director had power to give the undertaking sought, he would have been very wrong to do so in this case. If he had no reason for doubting, equally he had no means of investigating, the assertions made on behalf of Mrs Pretty. He received no information at all concerning the means proposed for ending Mrs Pretty's life. No medical supervision was proposed. The obvious risk existed that her condition might worsen to the point where she could herself do nothing to bring about her death. It would have been a gross dereliction of the Director's duty and a gross abuse of his power had he ventured to undertake that a crime yet to be committed would not lead to prosecution. The claim against him must fail on this ground alone.
40.. I would dismiss this appeal."
"100. ... Respect for a person's 'private life', which is the only part of Article 8 which is in play here, relates to the way a person lives. The way she chooses to pass the closing moments of her life is part of the act of living, and she has a right to ask that this too must be respected. In that respect Mrs Pretty has the right of self-determination. In that sense, her private life is engaged even where in the face of terminal illness she seeks to choose death rather than life. But it is an entirely different thing to imply into these words a positive obligation to give effect to her wish to end her own life by means of an assisted suicide. I think that to do so would be to stretch the meaning of the words too far."
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW AND PRACTICE
A. Suicide, assisted suicide and consensual killing
"A person who aids, abets, counsels or procures the suicide of another, or an attempt by another to commit suicide, shall be liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years."
Section 2(4) provides:
"No proceedings shall be instituted for an offence under this section except by or with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions."
"First it is established that the principle of self-determination requires that respect must be given to the wishes of the patient, so that if an adult patient of sound mind refuses, however unreasonably, to consent to treatment or care by which his life would or might be prolonged, the doctors responsible for his care must give effect to his wishes, even though they do not consider it to be in his best interests to do so ... To this extent, the principle of the sanctity of human life must yield to the principle of self-determination ..." (Lord Goff in Airedale NHS Trust v. Bland  AC 789, at p. 864)
B. Domestic review of the legislative position
"236. The right to refuse medical treatment is far removed from the right to request assistance in dying. We spent a long time considering the very strongly held and sincerely expressed views of those witnesses who advocated voluntary euthanasia. Many of us have had experience of relatives or friends whose dying days or weeks were less than peaceful or uplifting, or whose final stages of life were so disfigured that the loved one seemed already lost to us, or who were simply weary of life ... Our thinking must also be coloured by the wish of every individual for a peaceful and easy death, without prolonged suffering, and by a reluctance to contemplate the possibility of severe dementia or dependence. We gave much thought too to Professor Dworkin's opinion that, for those without religious belief, the individual is best able to decide what manner of death is fitting to the life that has been lived.
III. RELEVANT INTERNATIONAL MATERIALS
"... that the Committee of Ministers encourage the member States of the Council of Europe to respect and protect the dignity of terminally ill or dying persons in all respects:
c. by upholding the prohibition against intentionally taking the life of terminally ill or dying persons, while:i. recognising that the right to life, especially with regard to a terminally ill or dying person, is guaranteed by the member States, in accordance with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights which states that 'no one shall be deprived of his life intentionally';ii. recognising that a terminally ill or dying person's wish to die never constitutes any legal claim to die at the hand of another person;iii. recognising that a terminally ill or dying person's wish to die cannot of itself constitute a legal justification to carry out actions intended to bring about death."
IV. THIRD-PARTY INTERVENTIONS
A. Voluntary Euthanasia Society
B. Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales
I. ADMISSIBILITY OF THE APPLICATION
II. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 2 OF THE CONVENTION
"1. Everyone's right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law.
(a) in defence of any person from unlawful violence;
(b) in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained;
(c) in action lawfully taken for the purpose of quelling a riot or insurrection."
A. Submissions of the parties
1. The applicant
2. The Government
B. The Court's assessment
III. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 3 OF THE CONVENTION
"No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."
A. Submissions of the parties
1. The applicant
2. The Government
B. The Court's assessment
IV. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 8 OF THE CONVENTION
"1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life ...
2.. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others."
A. Submissions of the parties
1. The applicant
2. The Government
B. The Court's assessment
1. Applicability of Article 8 § 1 of the Convention
2. Compliance with Article 8 § 2 of the Convention
V. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
"1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
2.. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others."
A. Submissions of the parties
1. The applicant
2. The Government
B. The Court's assessment
VI. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 14 OF THE CONVENTION
"The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in [the] Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status."
A. Submissions of the parties
1. The applicant
2. The Government
B. The Court's assessment
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT UNANIMOUSLY
Done in English, and notified in writing on 29 April 2002, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Michael O'Boyle Matti Pellonpää