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How the convention on human rights affects a patient's right to life

13 May 2021
Volume 30 · Issue 9


Richard Griffith, Senior Lecturer in Health Law at Swansea University, continues his series on human rights and health care and considers the right to life under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (1950)

Last month's article introduced the fundamental concepts underpinning human rights law and their application to nursing practice (Griffith, 2021). The main provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights (Council of Europe, 1950) have been incorporated into domestic UK law under the provisions of the Human Rights Act 1998, which gives Convention rights direct effect. Arguably, the most fundamental of these human rights is the right to life, under Article 2 (Council of Europe, 1950). The Human Rights Act 1998, schedule 1, part 1, provides that:

‘Everyone's right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law. ‘Deprivation of life shall not be regarded as inflicted in contravention of this Article when it results from the use of force which is no more than absolutely necessary: (a) in defence of any person from unlawful violence (b) in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained (c) in action lawfully taken for the purpose of quelling a riot or insurrection.’

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