BBC News has reported today that the European Court of Human Rights have declined an application to intervene, made by the parents of Charlie Gard. A similar application to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom had not succeeded.
The decision is now available online: Charles Gard v United Kingdom.
An earlier Court press release stated in part:
In the proceedings before the European Court, Charlie’s parents argued – on their own behalf and that of their son – under Article 2 (right to life) that the hospital has blocked access to life sustaining treatment (in the U.S.A.) for Charlie and under Article 5 (right to liberty and security) that, as a result, he is unlawfully deprived of his liberty. They further alleged under Articles 6 (right to a fair trial) and 8 (right to respect for private and family life) that the domestic court decisions amounted
to an unfair and disproportionate interference in their parental rights.
The Court bore in mind the considerable room for manoeuvre (“wide margin of appreciation”) left to the authorities in the sphere concerning access to experimental medication for the terminally ill and in cases raising sensitive moral and ethical issues, reiterating that it was not for the Court to substitute itself for the competent domestic authorities. From this perspective, the Court gave weight to the fact that a domestic legal framework – compatible with the Convention – was available governing both access to experimental medication as well as withdrawal of life sustaining treatment.
Furthermore, the domestic court decisions had been meticulous, thorough and reviewed at three levels of jurisdiction with clear and extensive reasoning giving relevant and sufficient support for their conclusions; the domestic courts had direct contact with all those concerned (notably, they had heard from all the medical experts involved in the treatment as well as experts instructed by the applicants, from Charlie’s parents themselves and from an independent professional appointed as the child’s guardian, had received expert reports from other doctors of international standing in the field and had visited the hospital); it was appropriate for the hospital to approach the courts in the UK in the event of doubts as to the best decision to take; and, lastly, the domestic courts had concluded, on the basis of extensive, high-quality expert evidence, that it was most likely Charlie was being exposed to continued pain, suffering and distress and that undergoing experimental treatment with no prospects of success would offer no benefit, and continue to cause him significant harm..