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The United States has been advised to suspend the first execution using nitrogen asphyxiation.
Americas World News

The United States has been advised to suspend the first execution using nitrogen asphyxiation.

In 1988, Kenneth Eugene Smith was found guilty of murder and is set to be put to death on January 25th in Alabama, a state in the southern United States.

A grim first 

This will be the initial occurrence in the United States of an individual being executed with nitrogen gas.

According to Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for OHCHR, the execution of Smith may be considered as a violation of international human rights law, potentially constituting torture or other forms of inhumane or degrading treatment.

The UN’s human rights office in Geneva urges state officials in Alabama to stop the execution of Smith on January 25-26 and to not proceed with any other executions using this method.

“Alabama attempted to carry out Smith’s execution through lethal injection in 2022, but was unsuccessful. Smith also has ongoing legal proceedings in federal court regarding his impending execution, which have yet to be fully resolved,” the speaker stated.

No prior sedation 

Ms. Shamdasani pointed out that Alabama does not have a policy for sedation before carrying out capital punishment by nitrogen asphyxiation.

According to her, the American Veterinary Medical Association suggests administering a sedative to even larger animals when euthanizing them in this method.

The execution protocol in the state of Alabama also includes the possibility of using gas for a maximum of 15 minutes.

“According to the expert testimony provided by Smith, he has also argued that the use of gas asphyxiation as a method of execution in his case would cause specific pain and suffering,” she stated.

End capital punishment 

Ms. Shamdasani, representing OHCHR, expressed deep concern over the execution potentially violating international agreements regarding civil rights and the prevention of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

Moreover, capital punishment goes against the basic human right to life.

She stated that there is no evidence to support the claim that it reduces crime, and it poses a dangerous threat of wrongfully executing innocent individuals.

Instead of coming up with new methods for carrying out the death penalty, we recommend that all governments impose a temporary suspension on its use as a first step towards completely eliminating it worldwide.