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Imprisoned child rapist challenges assisted suicide law in Switzerland

A request by a child rapist, imprisoned for life for the danger he poses to the community, is testing Switzerland’s support for assisted suicide.

The unprecedented case has exposed a legal vacuum in the country and has raised complex questions over whether prisoners can seek help to end their own lives.

In 1996, Peter Vogt was convicted for sexual assault and rape against multiple girls and women, ranging in age from 10 to 56.

Although his sentence was for a 10-year term, the 69-year-old is currently being detained indefinitely at Bostadel prison in northern Switzerland as he is still considered dangerous.

Peter told news agency AFP: “It is natural that one would rather commit suicide than be buried alive for years to come.

He added, “It would be better to be dead than to be left to vegetate behind these walls.”

The law in Switzerland allows assisted suicide under certain conditions. The Swiss Supreme Court has ruled people must commit suicide by their own hand, for example, by taking medication themselves – a doctor may provide but not administer a lethal injection, otherwise they will be liable for criminal prosecution.

People must also be aware of the actions they are undertaking and have given due consideration to their situation. In addition, they should be consistently sure they wish to die, and not be under the influence of another person, or group of persons.

Additionally, article 115 of the Swiss penal code prohibits assisted suicide for “selfish motives”, meaning most assisted suicides in the country are performed on elderly people suffering from terminal diseases.

Authorities are aiming to reach a decision in Vogt’s case in the next few months and have asked the Swiss Centre of Expertise in Prison and Probation to offer advice.

In October, the centre released a report arguing that prisoners should be allowed to end their own lives under certain conditions, due to the “right of self-determination” of individuals.

Barbara Rohner, lead author of the report, told AFP that any detainee possessing discernment should, in principle, have assisted suicide rights if they have “a physical or mental illness resulting in unbearable suffering.”

Vogt has revealed the “unbearable” deterioration in his quality of life, along with the fact that he can no longer see his mother who lives in Austria, is behind his desire to die.

Christine Bussat, founder of the Swiss chapter of the Marche Blanche victims’ rights groups, said the decision on a prisoner’s right to die should ultimately belong to their victims.  

The outcome in Vogt’s case will be the first of its kind in Switzerland and could set a precedent for an ageing prison population.

According to the Swiss National Science Foundation, a research institute, the number of prisoners over 50 years old doubled to 600 between 2005 and 2016.The founder of Dignitas, one of eight ‘assisted suicide societies’ in Switzerland, is currently being prosecuted for making a personal profit out of three assisted suicides – something which is prohibited by the Swiss Criminal Code.

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Dear reader

Thanks to the support from people like you, last year a major attempt to hijack the UK Government’s flagship Domestic Abuse Bill with two extreme abortion proposals failed, in a major pro-life victory.

Unfortunately, this is not the end for our opposition.

We are currently facing major threats on five separate fronts:

  1. Pro-abortion MP Rupa Huq has brought forward an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to introduce a jail term of up to two years if a pro-lifer offers support or advice to a woman near an abortion clinic. This is a threat to unborn babies and to freedom of speech.
  2. The assisted suicide lobby has brought forward a bill to legalise assisted suicide, which was introduced to the House of Lords on 26 May.
  3. The Northern Ireland Secretary has given himself new powers to force expanded abortion services on Northern Ireland.
  4. The abortion lobby is further exploiting the COVID-19 crisis to attempt to make dangerous ‘DIY’ home abortions available permanently.
  5. The abortion lobby is expected to make another attempt to change abortion law to allow abortion on demand, for any reason, up to birth.

If these major threats from our opposition are successful, it would be a disaster. Thousands of lives would be lost. 

Fighting both the abortion and assisted suicide lobbies over this period has already made a huge dent in Right To Life UK's limited resources.

To cover this gap and ensure we effectively defeat these proposals during this period, we must raise at least £200,000.

We are, therefore, asking people like you to please give as generously as you can. Every donation, no matter how small, will make a significant difference.

By stopping these threats, YOU can save lives over this coming period.

Will you make a special gift right now to help protect vulnerable lives from these threats?

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