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UN requests that UK keeps brain-damaged boy Archie Battersbee alive, family says

Written by on 30 July 2022

The UN has requested that brain-damaged 12-year-old Archie Battersbee is kept alive while it considers his case, according to his family’s lawyer.

Archie has relied on mechanical ventilation since being admitted to hospital on 7 April, after being found unconscious with a ligature around his neck at home in Southend, Essex.

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

The Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting the family’s lawyers, said it has seen a letter from the body that constitutes an injunction, stating that life support should not be removed – despite rulings from the highest UK courts this week.

The group said the UK is a signatory of the UN’s Optional Protocol to the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, which allows the UN to ask the UK government to delay the withdrawal of life support while a complaint is investigated.

It said the UK has an obligation under international human rights law to comply with interim measures indicated by the committee.

Sky News has contacted the UN and the UK government for comment and clarification.

More on Archie Battersbee

Archie's parents Paul Battersbee and Hollie Dance Image: Archie’s parents Paul Battersbee and Hollie Dance

Archie’s parents, Paul Battersbee and Hollie Dance, have asked the UN 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.

His family said they received a letter from the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, which said it 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.”

Archie’s relatives made their application to the UN after the UK’s Supreme Court refused to intervene.

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Judges have ruled doctors can lawfully stop life-life support treatment to 12-year-old Archie Battersbee. Archie's mother, Hollie Dance, says 'it shouldn't be allowed' and that she will 'fight as long as I possibly can'. 0:32 25 July – ‘I won’t give up fight’, says Archie’s mother

The Court of Appeal previously upheld a ruling by the High Court, which said withdrawing life support would be best for Archie.

Ms 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.”

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