GENEVA, Switzerland — A Swiss prisoner is challenging the country’s policy to bar inmates from receiving assisted suicide after his request to die was denied.
Peter Vogt, 69, is serving the equivalent of a life sentence after being convicted of multiple rapes, including of a child. He requested assisted suicide due to kidney and heart problems, as well as the mental anguish of being unable to travel to see his mother.
Vogt is described as having “several psychological disorders.”
Although he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in 1996, a 2004 Swiss law allows for prisoners with “established sexual delinquencies” to be held in prison indefinitely. Vogt is still considered to be a threat to the public and there are no plans to release him from prison.
In light of this, Vogt requested to end his life.
“It is natural that one would rather commit suicide than be buried alive for years to come,” he told the news agency AFP in a written statement. “It would be better to be dead than left to vegetate behind these walls.”
Vogt has been attempting to end his life since July 2018, when he first contacted the organization Exit Switzerland. Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland except for cases of “selfish motives." Exit Switzerland only provides the option to people with “hopeless forecasts,” “unbearable symptoms” or “unacceptable disabilities.”
The group turned down Vogt’s inquiry, saying they need “clarification” for his situation as a prisoner. They requested guidance from the Swiss Centre of Expertise in Prison and Probation on how to proceed. In October, it was advised that convicts most likely had the “right” to an assisted suicide, “under certain conditions.”
It is still unclear if Vogt, or any of the other prisoners looking to end their lives with the aid of a medical professional, will be granted euthanasia.
Switzerland has some of the loosest policies and laws regarding assisted suicide. The organization Dignitas operates in and around Zurich, and is a destination for “suicide tourists” who travel to the country to end their lives. Dignitas says that the majority of foreigners who commit suicide with the assistance of their organization are German. As of August 2015, about 300 British citizens had ended their lives in Switzerland with the assistance of Dignitas. Assisted sucide is not legal in the United Kingdom.
The 2016 film “Me Before You,” told the story of a British man with quadriplegia who traveled to Switzerland to end his life at a Dignitas clinic. The film was criticized by disability rights and pro-life activists alike for its portrayal of disability and its positive view of suicide.