Belgium’s new death row

Ten prisoners in Belgian jails have asked for euthanasia, according to the television program Panorama. Authorities have granted the request of at least one man because he was terminally ill. The others are still waiting for a response.

According to journalist, Dirk Leestmans, in theory Belgian law permits prisoner euthanasia, as the nation’s 1,000 inmates have the same health rights as free citizens. But the request raises difficult questions. If they are euthanased because they are experiencing unbearable suffering, how much of that is due to the prison environment? And what exactly was the point of the abolition of capital punishment in 1996? 

This article is published by Michael Cook and BioEdge.org under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.

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