Archie Battersbee’s parents make ‘last-ditch’ application to United Nations

Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee want the UN Committee On The Rights Of Persons With Disabilities to consider their son’s case.

29 July 2022

The parents of a 12-year-old boy left in a comatose state after suffering brain damage have asked the United Nations to intervene.

Archie Battersbee’s mother and father, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, have made a “last-ditch” application to a UN Committee after losing life-support treatment fights in London courts, a family spokesman said on Friday.

The spokesman said Archie’s parents wanted the UN Committee On The Rights Of Persons With Disabilities to consider the youngster’s case.

A High Court judge said ending treatment is in Archie’s best interests.

The youngster’s parents, who are separated but both live in Southend, Essex, failed to persuade Court of Appeal judges to overturn that ruling and Supreme Court justices have refused to intervene.

Archie’s parents are being support by a campaign organisation called the Christian Legal Centre.

A spokesman for the centre announced its latest move and said it had made a “last-ditch application”.

“Archie’s parents want the UN committee to consider Archie’s case, arguing it has a protocol that allows ‘individuals and families’ to make complaints about violations of disabled people’s rights,” said the spokesman.

“The family argue that stopping treatment would be in breach of the UK’s obligations under Articles … of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, and under an Article of the UN Convention on the Rights of Children.”

Archie’s parents have asked hospital bosses to continue treatment until the UN has considered the case.

The mother of Archie Battersbee, Hollie Dance, speaks to the media outside the Royal Courts of Justice, London
Hollie Dance speaks to the media outside the Royal Courts of Justice (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Judges have heard that Ms Dance found Archie unconscious with a ligature over his head on April 7.

She thinks he might have been taking part in an online challenge.

The youngster has not regained consciousness.

Archie Battersbee’s father Paul Battersbee
Archie Battersbee’s father Paul Battersbee (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, think he is brain-stem dead and say continued life-support treatment is not in his best interests.

Bosses at the hospital’s governing trust, Barts Health NHS Trust, had asked for decisions on what medical moves were in Archie’s best interests.

A High Court judge, Mrs Justice Arbuthnot, initially considered the case and concluded that Archie was dead.

But Court of Appeal judges upheld a challenge by his parents against decisions taken by Mrs Justice Arbuthnot and said the evidence should be reviewed by a different High Court judge, Mr Justice Hayden.

Miss Dance said: “Words cannot describe how devastated we are.

“The pressure put on us from the beginning to rush through the process of ending Archie’s life has been disgraceful.

“All we have ever asked for is for more time.

“The urgency from the hospital and the courts is unexplained when other parties have been happy for us to have more time.

“I don’t believe there is anything ‘dignified’ about planning Archie’s death.

“For me, this would be the most traumatic outcome.

“Parents need support not pressure.

“It is exhausting what we have been through.

“We should not have to endlessly battle the hospital in the courts for what we believe is right for Archie.

“Top judges have told us, however, that this is the law, if this so, the law must change.

“We will continue fighting for Archie, we will not give up and now await the response from the UN committee.”

The Christian Legal Centre spokesman added: “The UK has an obligation under international human rights law to comply with interim measures indicated by the committee.

“That obligation comes from the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“The Optional Protocol creates an enforcement mechanism for the convention, i.e. the committee with power to monitor states’ compliance, consider individual complaint, and issue interim measures.

“A number of UN conventions have similar Optional Protocols.

“The UK has chosen to opt into some but not the others.

“In the case of disability rights, the UK Government has taken a considered decision to join the Optional Protocol and to be bound by the decisions of the committee.

“The NHS trust is an emanation of the UK state. We therefore expect the Government and the trust to honour its international human rights obligations.”

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