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Med Law 1991;10(3):211-8

 Legal questions surrounding hunger strikes by detainees and prisoners.

 Strauss SA

 University of South Africa, Pretoria.

 The 'right to die' is not of an absolute character but is subject to definite qualification. There are legal and social interests reflecting profound ethical values which militate against an absolute right on the part of a prisoner to die by means of a hunger strike. The declared policy of the South African authorities is that a prisoner who resorts to a hunger strike may not be subjected to force-feeding. This is in accordance with the 1975 Tokyo Declaration. Unfortunately the Declaration is silent on the question of whether a doctor may provide medical treatment once a hunger striker has reached the point where he is no longer capable of rational thought. In this article it is submitted that a doctor would be legally entitled to do so.

PMID: 1943507, UI: 92048204

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