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Court Removes Ban On Professional Assisted Suicide



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Germany’s highest court on Wednesday ruled that a 2015 law banning professional assisted suicide was unconstitutional, saying in a landmark decision that people have “the right to a self-determined death”.

The ruling is a major victory for the terminally ill patients, doctors and assisted suicide organisations who brought the case, complaining that the existing law went too far.

Judge Andreas Vosskuhle at the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe said the right to a self-determined death included “the freedom to take one’s life and seek help doing so”.

The court also surprised observers by explicitly stating that the right to assisted suicide services should not be limited to the seriously or incurably ill.

The freedom to choose one’s death “is guaranteed in all stages of a person’s existence”, the verdict read.

Passed by lawmakers in 2015, the existing law, known as Paragraph 217, was mainly aimed at barring associations dedicated to helping patients wanting to die.

It also meant medical personnel faced prosecution for prescribing life-terminating drugs.

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The legal uncertainty worsened when a lower court ruled in 2017 that officials could not refuse lethal medication in extreme cases, creating confusion among doctors.

Wednesday’s verdict was closely watched in a fast-ageing country where Catholic and Protestant Churches still exert strong influence, but polls show growing public support for physician-assisted suicide.

It is also a sensitive subject in Germany as the Nazis used what they euphemistically called “euthanasia” to exterminate around 200,000 disabled people.

– Right to dignity –

At the heart of the debate was the plaintiffs’ argument that Germany’s constitution guarantees personal freedom and dignity, which they said includes the right to choose when and how to die.

The court agreed with their reasoning and found the restrictions imposed by Paragraph 217 made it “impossible” for people to receive help from third party professionals in Germany.

Under Paragraph 217, professionals falling foul of the law risked a fine or up to three years in prison.

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This left German patients turning to family members or loved ones for help, some getting life-terminating medicine from abroad.

Judge Vosskuhle said those who wanted to offer suicide assistance must be legally allowed to, without however being forced to do so.

The court stressed however that legislators still had “a broad spectrum” of options to regulate assisted suicide, for instance through mandatory waiting periods or consumer protection standards for assisted suicide associations.

The German government said it would study the court’s verdict “very closely” before deciding the next course of action.

Church representatives reacted with dismay to the annulment of Paragraph 217.

– ‘Pressure’ –

In a joint statement, the German Bishops’ Conference and the Evangelical Church of Germany said they feared elderly or sick people would feel “internal or external pressure” to make use of assisted suicide services.

Judge Vosskuhle acknowledged that the ruling would not please everyone but said the decision of those wishing to end their lives had to be respected.

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“We may regret their decision and try everything we can do change their minds but ultimately we must accept their freedom to choose,” he said.

Ahead of the ruling, the German Medical Association had also opposed any relaxing of Paragraph 217, fearing it could open the door to euthanasia, where doctors take an active role in helping a patient die, for instance through lethal injection.

Euthanasia is officially legal in only three European Union countries — the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg — but others allow or tolerate a form of assisted suicide.

In non-EU Switzerland, as well as in the US states of Vermont, Oregon and Washington, assisted suicide is legal.

A survey for broadcaster ARD on Tuesday found that 81 percent of Germans believed doctors should be allowed to help severely ill patients with their wish to die, up from 76 percent in 2012.


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Taliban seize $12.4m from former top Afghan officials




Taliban seize $12.4m from former top Afghan officials
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Taliban seize $12.4m from former top Afghan officials

Afghanistan’s Taliban-controlled central bank said it had seized nearly $12.4 million in cash and gold from former top government officials on Wednesday, including former vice president Amrullah Saleh.

In a statement, the central bank said the money and gold had been kept in officials’ houses, although it did not yet know for what purpose.

Saleh’s whereabouts are unknown.

He has vowed to resist the Taliban, who stormed to power a month ago, and last week a family member said the Taliban had executed his brother Rohullah Azizi.

In a separate statement, the bank urged Afghans to use the country’s local Afghani currency. It comes amid growing worries that the country’s banks and firms are running short of money, especially dollars, which are widely used.

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Taliban seize $12.4m from former top Afghan officials

In a sign that the Taliban are looking to recoup assets belonging to former government officials, the central bank issued a circular to local banks last week asking them to freeze the accounts of politically exposed individuals linked to the previous government, two commercial bankers said.

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‘Okonjo-Iweala knows how to get things done,’ Prince Harry, Meghan praise WTO boss




'Okonjo-Iweala knows how to get things done,' Prince Harry, Meghan praise WTO boss
Okonjo Iweala
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‘Okonjo-Iweala knows how to get things done,’ Prince Harry, Meghan praise WTO boss

The list of influential figures cut across icons, pioneers, titans, artists, leaders, and innovators.

American news magazine, Time, has named Nigeria’s former minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

The Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was named alongside world leaders like United States President, Joe Biden, and Chinese President, Xi Jinping, in Time’s September 15 publication.

She tweeted moments after the publication that she was ‘honored and privileged’ to have made the cover of the magazine.

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In an appraisal penned by Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, they applauded her role in campaigning for equitable vaccine access across the world.

The Archewell founders noted that the world’s hope to defeat COVID-19 through vaccines rests on the shoulders of leaders like Okonjo-Iweala.

‘Okonjo-Iweala knows how to get things done,’ Prince Harry, Meghan praise WTO boss

“Our conversations with her have been as informative as they are energising.

“This is partly because, despite the challenges, she knows how to get things done—even between those who don’t always agree—and does so with grace and a smile that warms the coldest of rooms,” the Duke and Duchess wrote.

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Okonjo-Iweala made history in March when she officially started her tenure as the WTO DG, the first woman and first African to do so.

“Vaccine inequity is the most important issue to tackle right now in this pandemic because it determines how we’re going to recover globally, and how many lives we save.

“With the variants that are mutating and the number of people dying, it is unacceptable that when you have the technology to save lives, some people don’t have access,” the 67-year-old told Time.

Wednesday’s list also had names of leaders like U.S. vice president, Kamala Harris, Indian president, Narendra Modi, as well as influential figures like Elon Musk, Tim Cook, Dolly Parton, and the Duke and Duchess themselves.

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The list of influential figures cut across icons, pioneers, titans, artists, leaders, and innovators.

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Vicious ISWAP Leader, Al-barnawi, Killed




Vicious ISWAP Leader, Al-barnawi, Killed
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Vicious ISWAP Leader, Al-barnawi, Killed

• How he succeeded his father, B/Haram founder, Mohammed Yusuf
• Led terrorists’ onslaughts on security forces
• We’re not aware of his death – Military
• Situation dicey – Expert

Leader of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), Abu Musab Al-Barnawi has been killed in Borno State, Daily Trust learnt from many sources.

He was reportedly killed in the last week of August, this year.

Al-Barnawi was the son of Boko Haram founder, Mohammed Yusuf who was also killed by security forces in 2009 when he launched a war against the Nigerian state. More than one thousand people died during the uprising.

In 2016, the Islamic State (IS) militant group announced Al-Barnawi as the leader of its West African affiliate, Boko Haram, which was hitherto led by Abubakar Shekau.

Shekau took over as the group’s leader after the death of Mohammed Yusuf.

Before his dethronement, Shekau had sworn allegiance to IS in March 2015 and had killed thousands of people and destroyed countless communities during his reign of terror that extended up to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

His dislodgement in 2016 heralded the rise of the relatively young Al-Barnawi as ISWAP leader and at the same time, the split of the terrorist group into two factions.

It was reported that ISIS partly chose Al-Barnawi as leader in the Lake Chad region in order to punish Shekau who reportedly “violated all known norms” and to also retain the confidence of Boko Haram fighters who were loyal to his father, Yusuf amid threats from other factional groups.

Al-Barnawi was also said to have been trained by ISIS for years ahead of his ascension to power.

Shekau, who was declared wanted by the United States with a price on his head, had led the Boko Haram faction with solid footing around the Sambisa forest and part of the Mandara Mountains bordering the Cameroon Republic.

Vicious ISWAP Leader, Al-barnawi, Killed

On the other hand, Al-Barnawi sustained vicious attacks especially on military facilities and troops in the Lake Chad region while at the same time strategising on how to subdue Shekau.

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He controlled large swathes of territory in Northern Borno, imposed taxes on the local population and earned serious income from fishing asides from the financial and material support he got from ISIS.

Al-Barnawi’s fighters had also destroyed many military super camps in Dikwa, Monguno, Abadam and Marte in Borno; and other military facilities around Geidam in Yobe State.

He equally established many cells on the Lake Chad islands and surrounding villages from where his fighters launched attacks on Nigeria, Niger and Chad.

His death in August, after that of Shekau in May 2021, was seen as a turning point in the war against terror even as security experts had called for sustained offensive towards decimating the two rival groups to have a lasting peace after twelve years of uncertainty and carnage.

They said despite the massive surrender by Boko Haram fighters, nothing should be taken for a ride because there are many fighters who still believe in the course they are pursuing and could recover lost grounds if they get the slightest opportunity.

How Al-Barnawi was killed

There are two versions of the story of Al-Barnawi’s death with one saying he was killed by Nigerian troops and the other version saying he died during a rival war within the ISWAP camp.

The first version revolved around the information shared among some security operatives in the theatre of operation, which indicated that he was ambushed by troops during which four or five top ISWAP leaders and many foot terrorists loyal to him were also killed.

A source said he was killed around Bula Yobe, a community near the Borno/Yobe states border along Mobbar and Abadam axis that leads to the Lake Chad area.

However, a different source said the Bula Yobe where he was ambushed and killed could be accessed from Yale, Bama, Banki junction through the Kashimbri-Gulumba.

Other sources told the Daily Trust that it was leadership tussle that led to the death of Al-Barnawi.

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One of them said the battle of supremacy climaxed between August 14 and 26, 2021, and that the fight had claimed many commanders on both sides.

Yet, another source said the other camp had mobilised some terrorists from Central Africa to overthrow Al-Barnawi and they succeeded.

The military high command in Nigeria rarely confirms or denies the killing of high profile Boko Haram/ISWAP commanders because of the sensitivity of the issues.

This might not be unconnected with the multiple announcements of the killing of Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau over the years only for him to resurface again and again.

It was until May 2021, when ISWAP fighters engaged Shekau in a fierce battle that led him to kill himself at one of his enclaves at the Sambisa forest.

When contacted yesterday, the Director, Defence Information, Maj.-Gen. Benjamin Sawyer, told one of our correspondents that he could not confirm when Al-Barnawi was killed because troops had no link with them.

He said, “If there is a problem in their (Boko Haram) camp, how will I know? We normally have a fortnightly brief on operations. If ISWAP or BHTs are fighting among themselves, it is the media that always gives the entire nation the information. It is not us, because we are not in their camps.”

Daily Trust reports that Al-Barnawi fell less than two months after he consolidated his grip following the death of Shekau.

He had in an audio released in Kanuri language confirmed the death of Shekau and the triumph of his faction.

This is what he said in the 28-minute audio, “He (Shekau) never thought this would happen to him even in his dream, but by the power of God, we destabilised him.

“He became confused and fled to the forest where he spent five days, wandering and stranded. We followed him again where we faced him with heavy fire. He ran away.

Then our troops called on him to surrender so that he would be punished. We kept assuring him that we were not out to kill him but he was adamant and confused. As a cantankerous fellow, he believed it was better for him to die than to surrender,” he said.

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Shekau reportedly killed himself with a bomb “When he observed that the ISWAP fighters wanted to capture him alive.”

Vicious ISWAP Leader, Al-barnawi, Killed

It’s a dicey issue – Expert

A security sector reform expert, Chukwuma Ume, while speaking on the implications of the ISWAP leader’s killing on counter-insurgency, said it would have both positive and negative effects on the country.

According to him, “We are trying to focus as a nation. We are trying to up our game in terms of dealing with the issue of terrorism and insurgency.

“In as much as many people may want to say it is a welcome development, it shows that our military is waging this war seriously as we expect them but some of us will still think that a unilateral output, in this case, kinetic (use of force), may also not be the entire solution or a comprehensive solution that is required.

“This is not to take away anything from the Nigerian military. This is not to take anything away from our men and women out on the field but we are also calling on the government to be a bit more proactive in the sense that the issues leading to these: insurgency, terrorism or violent extremism should be dealt with.

“It needs a more holistic approach or integrated approach. Where there are structural imperfections or imbalance, where there are issues of exclusivity, where people feel that the quality of the life they live is on the defensive, the government should endeavour to provide these social contracts, especially those who are hitherto disadvantaged to become inclusive and to also have equitable distribution of source of livelihood.

“Yes, it is good that we seem to be winning the war, but at the same time we need to start addressing those issues that gave rise in the first instance to insurgency,” he said.

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