Assisted Suicide – Full Article

The legality of assisted suicide is subject to extensive debate around the world. Many jurisdictions, including Australia and the United Kingdom, prohibit it even though a significant proportion of society calls for a solution to the unwarranted suffering of others.

In Australia, 75% of the population is said to support a limited form of limited suicide. This is reflected in the practice of many individuals travelling to jurisdictions which allow assisted suicide in order to realise their wish to die. This phenomenon is now commonly referred to as “death tourism”.

In the recent case of Nicklinson [2014] UKSC 38 (“Nicklinson”) the United Kingdom Supreme Court (“UKSC”) considered assisted suicide in the light of the Convention (“the Convention”), and found that the legality of assisted suicide was an issue that should properly remain in the domain of the Parliament.

A similar case has not yet arisen before the Australian courts, however, if a case was to arise, Australian courts are likely to refer to and follow Nicklinson. The Convention provides a well-structured and effective framework regarding human rights and the High Court of Australia (“HCA”) has previously referred to decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (“ECHR”) in the process of determining human rights cases.

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