The euthanasia of Belgian detainees “is not part of the legal framework”

Publié le 23 Nov, 2015

The fifteen prisoners who requested euthanasia in Belgium for “uncontrollable mental suffering”“were recently told that their case was not acceptable within the Belgian legal framework for the decriminalisation of euthanasia”.


An initial request triggered the debate in September 2014. Frank Den Bleeken, who has been held for almost 30 years in a closed psychiatric unit in a prison near Anvers for the rape and death of a 19 year-old female student, was granted permission by Belgian law. However, given the furore surrounding this case, doctors eventually decided “not to continue the procedure” citing that “not all of the other options” had been exhausted. He was therefore “transferred to a centre where he was managed under conditions more in keeping with his situation”.


As regards the other fifteen prisoners, Dr. Wim Distelmans reported that “the intolerable [mental] suffering experienced by these prisoners is largely due to the context [prison] as opposed to an incurable disease (…)”. Their request “is not covered by the legal framework, terms or conditions”.

Institut Européen de Bioéthique (16/11/2015)

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