British High Court Denies Right-to-Die Appeal

by Tony Iozzo
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

LONDON, England – A British Court of Appeal upheld a ruling on Wednesday that the country’s law on assisted suicide cannot be changed by the courts, which quashed an appeal by a paralyzed man named Paul Lamb, and the family of the late Tony Nicklinson.

Paul Lamb exits the High Court in London on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Yahoo News)

The Lord Chief Justice, sitting with the Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson and Lord Justice Elias, affirming a High Court ruling, rejected the Nicklinsons’ and Mr. Lamb’s right-to-die challenges.

The Lord Chief Justice stated Parliament represented the “conscience of the nation” as applied to life and death matters, such as capital punishment and abortion.

The late Tony Nicklinson suffered from locked-in syndrome, where an individual is aware and awake but is paralyzed and cannot communicate. Mr. Nicklinson passed away in 2012 after refusing food following the initial High Court decision to reject his right-to-die claim

“We will carry on with the case for as long as we can so that others who find themselves in a position similar to Tony don’t have to suffer as he did. Nobody deserves such cruelty,” stated Nicklinson’s widow, Jane.

Paul Lamb, 57, who has been paralyzed from the neck down after a car accident 23 years ago, joined the right-to-die cause shortly after Nicklinson’s death. Lamb stated he is in constant pain, and has to be injected with drugs, including morphine, on a consistent basis due to his spinal injuries.

“I was hoping for a humane and dignified end- this judgment does not give me that,” Lamb stated.

Lamb and the Nicklinson family stated they will now take their case to Britain’s Supreme Court, and the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.

“I am doing this for myself as and when I need it. I’m doing it for thousands of other people living what can only be described as hell. Many of them have been getting in touch with me begging me to continue this fight. The more it goes on the stronger I am getting,” Lamb stated.

As the law stands currently in Britain, anyone who aids another individual in killing themselves commits an offense of assisted suicide, while a person who carries out euthanasia commits murder.

In a separate case on Wednesday, however, the Judges ruled that another locked-in syndrome sufferer should be allowed to take his case to the Supreme Court. The man is seeking clarification of whether a medical professional would face trial if they helped him travel abroad to a Swiss suicide clinic.

For more information, please see:

BBC News – Right-to-Die Campaigners Nicklinson and Lamb Lose Battle – 31 July 2013

The Independent – Barbaric and Inhumane: Paralyzed Man Paul Lamb Hit Back After Judges Dismiss His Right to Die Appeal – 31 July 2013

The Telegraph – Right-to-Die: Laws Must Clarify Whether Doctors Can Aid Euthanasia – 31 July 2013

Yahoo News – British Court Dismisses Landmark Right-to-Die Appeal – 31 July 2013



Wave of Deadly Car Bombs Targeting Shia Neighbourhoods Have Killed Dozens in Iraq Highlighting Rising Sectarian Tensions in the Country

By Kathryn Maureen Ryan
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

BAGHDAD, Iraq – A recent wave of car bombs left at least 51 people dead and more than 200 wounded in mostly-Shia neighborhoods in cities across Iraq after 18 car bombs were detonated on Monday.

Recent civilian deaths approach 2008 levels. (Photo courtesy of BBC News)

The majority of the attacks were carried out in Baghdad, the nation’s capital. Explosives were also detonated in the cities of Kut, Basra, Tikrit, Smawa and Muthanna Providence. The attacks targeted Shia communities and populated centers including a hospital, a bus station, a restaurant and several markets.

Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki has tightened security in the nation’s capital in response to fears that more bombs have yet to be detonated. There were long lines at checkpoints in Baghdad as the security services searched vehicles for explosives.

While there has been no immediate claim of responsibility for Monday’s attacks, they have largely been seen as an attempt to widen the gap between Iraq’s Shia and Sunni communities. The Iraq Interior Ministry has placed blame on Al-Qaida and accused the terror organization of trying to widen the rift between Sunnis and Shiites. Following the attacks, the United Nations envoy to Iraq, Gyorgy Busztin called for an end to the senseless bloodshed because the violence could push Iraq back into a sectarian war, saying, “Iraq is bleeding from random violence, which sadly reached record heights during the holy month of Ramadan.”

According to the United Nations, more than 2,500 Iraqis have been killed in attacks since April of this year, the surge in violence marks the highest level of violence since U.S. military forces pulled out of Iraq in 2011.

The surge in violence since April followed a violent crackdown by Iraqi security forces on a Sunni protest camp which left more than 40 civilians dead. Sunnis across the country have protested the Shia led government of Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki, claiming an unfair distribution of power and discrimination against the Sunni minority. Under the regime of Saddam Hussein, the country was under the control of the Sunni minority until the U.S. led invasion of Iraq in 2003. While the violence level in Iraq remains below the peak levels it reached during the height of the insurgency in 2006 and 2007 violence remains at its highest levels since 2008, bombings remain common and at least 700 people are believed to have been killed in July.

The recent surge in violence has largely been under-covered by American media outlets, likely as a result of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the region. However, The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad condemned the attacks, saying that United States “stands firmly with Iraq in its fight against terrorism.”

For further information please see:

Al-Jazeera – Deadly Wave of Car Bombs Strikes Iraq – 29 July 2013

Associated Press – Wave of Car Bombings in Iraq Kills at Least 58 – 29 July 2013

BBC News – Iraq Violence: Wave of Beadly Car Bombs Targets Shias – 29 July 2013

The Guardian – Baghdad Car Bombs Kill Dozens – 29 July 2013

Australia-bound Boat Carrying Asylum Seekers Sinks

By Kevin M. Mathewson
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

JAVA, Indonesia — A boat carrying Australia-bound asylum-seekers sank off Indonesia’s Java Island, killing at least eleven. It was estimated that roughly 200 people may have been aboard the boat that began sinking Tuesday evening. Five children and a pregnant woman were among the eleven confirmed dead.

An Indonesian police officer carries an exhausted young boy from the sea.

The rescued asylum-seekers said they were from Iraq, Iran, Sri Lanka and Syria.

The head of the local rescue agency has said the rescued are being held in a nearby immigration facility.

Every year countless people fleeing their home countries use Indonesia as a transit point. From there they board fishing boats bound for Australia.  Over 15,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Australia by boat this year. However, hundreds have died on the 310 mile journey.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced a new asylum policy last week. Under this new policy, all arriving refugees would be resettled in Papua New Guinea, although their claims for asylum will still be assessed in Australia.

“The asylum seeker policy we’ve adopted is about sending a very clear message to people smugglers that if you try to come to Australia by boat you will not be settled in Australia. That is all about destroying the people smugglers’ business model.” said Rudd.

However, critics say Australia’s new policy has them dodging responsibility and handing over its problem to a developing nation. “This is an appalling performance by Australia, which with its monetary wealth is able to pass the buck on to poorer countries.” said Tobias Kulang, an opposition spokesman.

In the meantime, Immigration Minister Tony Burke has promised to visit Australia’s offshore processing center in Papua New Guinea after allegations of abuse have emerged. Former security manager, Rod St. George, recently admitted that some detainees have been raped and assaulted.

“[They’re] not even fit to be used as a dog kennel.” George said about the processing center.

Burke has called the allegations “horrific,” and intends to work through the concerns at the island.

For further information, please see:

BBC News – Four dead after Australia-bound asylum boat sinks – 24 July 2013

Yahoo! News – Indonesia searches for missing boatpeople – 24 July 2013

The Telegraph – Boat carrying more than 100 asylum seekers sinks off Indonesia – 24 July 2013

London Evening Standard – Three killed as Australia-bound refugee boat sinks – 24 July