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Assisted Dying Citizens’ Jury gets ready to begin

11 March 2021

The first meeting of Citizens’ Jury on Assisted Dying will take place on Thursday 18 March.
The 23 Jury members have been selected from the 477 people who applied, and have been selected at random to provide a broadly representative sample of the Island.

Jury members will meet online ten times between 18 March and 15 May. They will hear from a broad range of speakers who will present information and evidence, allowing the Jury to consider and debate the legal, ethical and medical issues associated with assisted dying.

Two expert advisors will support Jury members to clarify and examine the information they receive. They are Professor Suzanne Ost (Lancaster University) and Dr Alexandra Mullock (University of Manchester).

In addition, a content oversight team is supporting the design of the sessions and the selection of speakers, to ensure that the evidence presented to the Jury is balanced. They have been selected for their academic expertise and their range of views on the subject.

The team includes Professor Richard Huxtable (University of Bristol), Professor Emily Jackson (London School of Economics) and Professor David Jones (St Mary’s University and Director of Anscombe Bioethics Centre, Oxford). 

Jury members will also benefit from practical and wellbeing support in the lead-up to the discussions, and throughout. The Government of Jersey has commissioned Involve, a UK-based participation charity who will provide members with support to take part in the online sessions. Mind Jersey will provide in-session support to Jury members, and wellbeing information will be available between sessions. 

Patricia Tumelty, Executive Director of Mind Jersey, said: “Mind Jersey are working in partnership with the independent facilitators of the Citizens’ Jury to support and protect the mental health and wellbeing of all the Jury members, who are involved in one of the most complex ethical decisions of our time.”

Michael De La Haye, a member of the Independent Advisory Panel (which was established by the Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf, to provide independent oversight of the whole process) said: “As panel members, we are committed to overseeing the integrity of the process and are pleased to see the opening session of the Jersey Assisted Dying Citizens’ Jury begin next week. 

“It is vital that the Citizens’ Jury hears the full range of views on this subject, and that they are able to discuss their views independently, in-depth and with the correct support in place. The appointment of expert advisors, who will attend each session, plus the independent content oversight team, are significant steps in ensuring the absolute integrity of the processes. 

“Myself and the other members of the Independent Advisory Panel will also be attending each session as official observers. We will not be participating: we will be watching and listening, in order to provide assurance to all stakeholders, regardless of their views, that the process is robust and balanced.”

The Jury will make initial recommendations in June. It will then produce a final report which will be presented to the States Assembly in the autumn. 

The States Assembly are the decision-makers with the authority to decide what, if any, changes are made to legislation in relation to assisted dying in Jersey.

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