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French national Alain Cocq
Image: Reuters/G. Fuentes

Facebook bans Frenchman from broadcasting own death

September 5, 2020

Facebook has said it will stop a terminally ill Frenchman from broadcasting his own death on the social media site. Alain Cocq wanted to stream his final hours after France's president turned down his euthanasia request.


Facebook has said it will block a terminally ill Frenchman from broadcasting his own death on the social media platform.

Alain Cocq is refusing to take food, drink and medicine after President Emmanuel Macron turned down his request for euthanasia.

The 57-year old has suffered from a degenerative disease for the past 34 years that causes the walls of his arteries to stick together.

He said on Facebook that he wanted to die and that he was "at peace." He said he wanted to broadcast his final hours live on the social media website.

Read more: Dutch euthanasia clinic sees jump in death assistance requests

But a spokesperson for the US tech giant told the Agence France-Presse news agency that its rules forbid any users from portraying suicide.

"Although we respect his decision to want to draw attention to this complex question, following expert advice we have taken measures to prevent the live broadcast on Alain's account," the spokesperson said.

"Our rules do not allow us to show suicide attempts."

'Unfair discrimination'

Cocq, who hails from Dijon, eastern France, wrote on his Facebook page that the move was "unfair discrimination" that "hinders freedom of expression."

He has been bedridden for two years and is fed by a drip. He has said his rare condition leaves him in constant pain.

Back in July, Cocq wrote to President Macron asking him to be prescribed a sedative that would end his life. But Macron said French law stopped him from intervening.

Read more: German court clears two doctors present as patients committed suicide

Assisted suicide debate in Germany

"Your wish is to request active assistance in dying which is not currently permitted in our country," Macron wrote in his reply.

Euthanasia, the act of deliberately ending a person's life to relieve suffering, is illegal in France.

French law says deep sedation can only be granted if a patient has an incurable condition and is due to die in the short term.

Patients can refuse food and medical care, but Cocq wanted the law changed so he and others like him could "die in dignity."

Neighboring countries Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands allow both euthanasia and assisted suicide, which is the act of deliberately assisting another person to kill themselves.

Germany's highest court ruled in February that the law which penalized assisted suicide was unconstitutional.

Read more: Opinion: Assisted suicide is a matter of choice

Right-to-die cases have long been an emotive issue in France, with the Catholic Church campaigning against euthanasia and assisted suicide.

One of the most polarizing was the case of Vincent Lambert, who was left in a vegetative state after a 2008 traffic accident.

He died in July last year after doctors removed life support following a legal battle that divided Lambert's own family. His wife and nephew argued that he should be allowed to die.

In January, a French court acquitted the doctor who turned off the life support machine. Prosecutors said he had "perfectly respected his legal obligations."

If you are suffering from serious emotional strain or suicidal thoughts, do not hesitate to seek professional help. You can find information on where to find such help, no matter where you live in the world, at this website: https://www.befrienders.org/ 

jf/mm (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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