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Safeguarding human rights and promoting progress in biomedicine: an essential synergy

headline Brussels, Belgium 10/10/2016
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Safeguarding human rights and promoting progress in biomedicine: an essential synergy

With this conclusion ended the European Seminar on "Right to the Integrity of the Person", with a particular focus on the field of biology and medicine, organised under the European Union (EU) - Council of Europe (CoE) Joint Programme "HELP in the 28" in Brussels 6 - 7 October, in collaboration with the Belgium Institute for Judicial Training (IGO-IFJ) and, more particularly, the CoE Bioethics Unit.

Over 50 judges, prosecutors and lawyers as well as health professionals gathered to raise awareness of the "Right to the Integrity of the Person", with a particular focus on the field of biology and medicine. The role of legal professionals in its protection was also discussed. Apart from EU officials from DG-Justice linked to the Programme, various experts covered the subject from the legal and medical perspective. The mutually reinforcing relationship between the CoE and EU systems was explored by various speakers. Former Commissioner Alvaro Gil-Robles closed the event inspiring attendees to continue the fight for human rights where much has been achieved in the last decades, in spite of difficult current European context.  

The Seminar, organised in collaboration with the Judicial Training Centre of Belgium (IGO-IFJ), offered the right forum to promote the online course on the "Right to the Integrity of the Person" (Bioethics) which has been developed thanks to the European Programme on Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals in the 28 EU countries, also known as "HELP in the 28".

"HELP in the 28" is actually the largest training project within the EU on fundamental rights for judges, prosecutors and lawyers.

The objective of this course is to assist legal professionals in the implementation of the European system of protection, based mainly on the European Convention on Human Rights and the Biomedicine Convention as well as the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and other EU laws (i.e. Directives). It covers in a practical way the case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), pointing out to problems such as medical interventions or removal of organs or body parts without consent; medically assisted procreation; physical abuse; or end-of-life situations. The course will be piloted in Belgium, France, Italy and Poland.

The relevance of the Biomedicine (or Oviedo) Convention to protect human rights in the fields of medicine and biology was emphasised, and the relationship between the CoE and EU systems explored. Specific issues discussed ranged from the right to the integrity of the person in psychiatric institutions to the importance of free and informed consent, or the prohibition of commercialisation of the human body and its parts.

For your information, you can find the Seminar presentations here.

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