The United Nations UN Committee on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (UN CRPD) has issued an injunction stating that the UK government must keep Archie Battersbee alive while the committee considers the case.
The injunction states that life-support should not be removed despite rulings from the highest UK courts judges this week.
The 12-year-old suffered serious brain injuries while attempting an online challenge at home in April. Doctors think turning off life support is in his best interests, but his parents disagree and want to leave his life in God's hands.
Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, the families’ lawyers had made a last-ditch application to the UN CRPD on Friday following the refusal of the UK’s Supreme Court to intervene in the case the day before.
The court order for the removal of life-support came into effect at 2pm on Thursday but the family lawyers sought urgent assurances that Royal London Hospital would not begin removing treatment while the parents apply to the UN CRPD.
Archie’s parents wanted the UN CRPD 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.
The family argue that stopping treatment would be in breach of the UK’s obligations under Articles 10 and 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, and Article 6 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Children.
In response, the UN CRPD has written to Archie’s parents and legal team saying:
“Under article 4 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and pursuant to rule 64 of the Committee’s Rules of Procedure, the Committee, acting through its Special Rapporteur on Communications, has requested the State party to refrain from withdrawing life-preserving medical treatment, including mechanical ventilation and artificial nutrition and hydration, from the alleged victim while the case is under consideration by the Committee; this request does not imply that any decision has been reached on the substance of the matter under consideration. The Committee may review the necessity of maintaining the request for interim measures once the State party’s observations have been received.”
Responding to the news, Archie’s mum, Hollie Dance, said: “I am so grateful to the UN for their response and acting so quickly for my son. We have been under so much stress and anxiety; we are already broken and the not-knowing what was going to happen next was excruciating. To get this news now means everything.
“This is the first time this has ever happened in history of this inhumane system in the UK. There have been so many ups and downs, but we have put on the full armour of God, gone into the battle and now we have given Archie time, that is all we have ever asked for.”
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre who has been supporting the families’ case, said: “We are delighted with the response from the UN. It is high-time that the UK’s processes around proactively ending children’s lives came under international scrutiny.
“We now hope and pray that the UN Committee may do justice to Archie and his family, as well as to other disabled people in UK hospitals in future cases.
“Life is the most precious gift we have.
“We have stood with the family from the beginning three months ago following the tragedy and now continue to pray for this beautiful boy, Archie, and for everyone involved.”