The sad fate of 23 month old Italian citizen Alfie Evans who never managed to arrive in Italy.
Alfie Evans was granted Italian citizenship on 24 April 2018 on the basis of Article 9(2) Act No. 91 of 5 February 1992, which states that:
‘By decree of the President of the Republic, having heard the Council of State and following a decision by the Council of Ministers, upon a proposal of the Minister for the Interior, in consultation with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, citizenship may be granted to aliens where they have rendered an outstanding service to Italy, or where an exceptional interest of the State exists’.
It was determined that Alfie’s case was of interest to the Italian State in order to ensure further therapeutic developments for the minor, in the protection of pre-eminent humanitarian values which, in this case, concern the safeguarding of health.
Pope Francis was also involved in Alfie’s fate following Alfie’s father, Tom Evans travelling to Rome and asking for his son to be granted asylum in order for Alfie to receive treatment at the Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital. The Pope said that the Vatican’s Secretariat of State would ensure a “decisive diplomatic channel is open up for Alife so that the dignity of his life is respected”. Shortly after, Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano and Interior Minister Marco Minniti granted Italian citizenship to Alfie on 24 April 2018 and hoped that by doing so, the child would immediately be able to be transferred to Italy. The Italian government applied to the UK Foreign Secretary for permission to intervene to save Alfie’s life. The court banned Alfie to travel. The Italian government was asked to intervene in the case in order for their citizen Alfie Evans to be returned Rome.
The Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, where the child was being nursed recommended to Alfie’s parents that treatment be stopped as the damage was too extensive. Alfie’s matter was taken to the Family Division of the UK High Court and was dismissed. The case was then referred to the Supreme Court and was dismissed yet again.
Despite, the Italian government’s initial offer for Alfie to be transported to Rome’s Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital, the Roman doctors later changed their minds after consulting with Alfie’s doctors in the UK stating that the condition was irreversible and untreatable. Mr Justice Hayden consequently rejected the notation to take Alfie to Rome and ordered to end Alfie’s life support should commence at 21.00 on 30 April 2018.
Mr Justice Hayden was scolded by many for referring to the urgent plight of Kate James and Tom Evans to keep their son alive as ‘deluded’ and ‘emotive nonsense’. The Guardian stated that: ‘the outpouring of what he called ‘emotive nonsense’ in his courtroom is not to be confused with heartlessness. Rather it is a recognition that court are the one place where, in cases like these, reason can still prevail over white-hot emotion’. Hayden ordered that the child’s ventilator be switched off as keeping the child alive was no longer in the child’s best interests. Following Hayden’s determination, Alfie’s parents made a desperate appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, which rejected the application deeming it to be inadmissible.
Alfie sadly died at 02.30am on 28 April 2018. It will always remain an unknown whether Alfie would have received better care and have lived longer as an Italian citizen had he been allowed to be treated in the Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital in Rome.