After the attacks of 9.11 many countries, including Poland and Germany, introduced regulations allowing to shoot down a civilian airplane used by terrorists to conduct an air attack. In Germany the corresponding regulation was subject to a constitutional complaint and to the decision of the 'Bundesverfassungsgericht', which on 15th February 2006 ruled that the law was an infringement of basic human rights. The very same conclusion was reached by the Polish Constitutional Tribunal on the issue of the legality of a similar Polish act. Analogous arguments given in both decisions show that allowing to shoot down a hijacked, civilian plane with passengers on board constitutes the breach of their right to life and to human dignity. A state may not deprive those individuals of its protection, especially it is not allowed to compare the value of the life of individuals endangered by the potential terrorist attack and those on board of the plane. Such a comparison may not be made neither based on the time, that the passengers have left to live, nor on the number of individuals, that would have to be killed and the number of ones rescued on the ground. The right of citizens to have their life protected by the state authorities serves them until the very end and the state may not deprive them of such a protection. The passengers may neither be treated as a part of a 'weapon' used against the terrorists.
Jan Kulesza, Uniwersytet Lódzki, ul. Skladowa 43, 90-127 Lódz, Poland
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