Is force-feeding an international human rights violation?

by Walter Olson on July 18, 2013

Or would it instead be a human rights violation to let hunger-striking inmates starve? Or maybe both? Debra Saunders quotes my puzzlement at “the emotional atmospherics of hunger strikes, in which people are using other people’s morality as a weapon against them.” [San Francisco Chronicle/ syndicated]

{ 2 comments }

1 Hugo S. Cunningham 07.18.13 at 11:11 am

On 2013. June 1, I addressed the same question to NYT columnist Joe Nocera (whom I often agree with, but not this time):

Subj: Is starvation acceptable alternative to force-feeding?
To the Editor of the “New York Times”:

Those who wish to outlaw force-feeding of dangerous captive hunger-strikers (Joe Nocera’s column, 2013/0601 Saturday)
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/01/opinion/nocera-is-force-feeding-torture.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0.
need to make clear that allowing suicide by starvation is morally acceptable, an autonomous decision for which the striker is solely responsible.

Is Mr. Nocera ready to push international human-rights opinion in that direction?

2 Ben 07.18.13 at 9:12 pm

Hugo, not just Nocera, but the authorities he cites also simply ignore the problem of starvation. The WMA says, flatly, “forced feeding of hunger strikers is unethical, and is never justified.”

I don’t think I’m reading too deeply to assume that means that hunger strikers should be allowed to die.

Frankly, I can see where radical leftists and Islamists have common ground, especially in their blithe disregard for human life.

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