Council of Europe: Human Rights Commissioner finds that right to life of newborns is “outside my competence”

Nils-Muiznieks_CoEThe Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights believes that the practice of infanticide is not within his competence and refuses to meet NGOs wishing to inform him on this subject.

On 1 November, four non-governmental organisations (the International Catholic Child Bureau, the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organisations, the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe and the European Centre for Law and Justice) sent a letter to Mr Nils Muižnieks, the Commissioner for Human Rights for the Council of Europe, requesting a meeting to present to him a document exposing the fate of children born alive after an abortion. Every year, in effect, some one hundred children are born alive at the time of the abortion procedure after the 20th week of pregnancy in Europe. They are, most often, abandoned to die without care, struggling to breathe, sometimes for several hours. In other cases they are directly killed by lethal injection or suffocation, and then thrown away with organic waste.

Given that these children are alive and outside their mothers’ wombs, one cannot qualify these killings as abortions. Instead, one must speak of infanticide. Such cases by definition do not fall within the scope of laws “legalizing” abortion, however liberally those laws may be drafted.

The facts are attested by the official data and testimonies of midwives. One study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology has concluded that at 23 weeks of pregnancy, the level of children surviving abortion is at 10%.

To leave them to die without treatment, or killing them, simply because they are not wanted, is inhuman. This is why the NGOs wanted to meet the Commissioner for Human Rights and inform him of these inhuman practices. This would have provided him with the occasion to reaffirm that all human beings have the same right to live and should benefit from appropriate and necessary treatment and care without discrimination.

Regrettably, the Commissioner refused to receive the NGOs, stating that his competence “does not include the issues raised by the signatory organisations”.

This response is astonishing, given that on 15 January of this year he had taken a public position against sex-selective abortion, calling for criminal sanctions against it.

It must also be recalled in this context that the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, the 25th anniversary of which is celebrated this year, recognizes that “the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.”

The statement made by the Commission seems to imply that either those children do not have the status of human beings or that, for some unknown reason, they are, albeit human beings, not entitled to protection of their right to life. Unfortunately, Mr. Muižnieks did not deem it necessary to explain his point of view.

Already earlier this year, when discussing the matter upon request of a member of the Parliamentary Assembly, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which reunites the governments of the 47 Member States, did not succeed in reaching an agreement “to guarantee that foetuses who survive abortions are not deprived from the medical treatment that they are entitled to -as human persons born alive- according to the European Convention on Human Rights”.

It appears that certain governments, by fear of putting in question the sad practice of late abortions, would rather accept – tacitly or explicitly – the even more horrific practice of infanticide. This is yet another evidence of how the acceptance of abortion undermines the concept of human rights as a whole.

There is a petition on CitizenGO on this issue that you may want to sign.