Dave Martin Archives Associated Press The execution of Kenneth Smith by lethal injection in November 2022 for a murder on command committed in 1988 was canceled at the last minute, the intravenous drips to inject him with the lethal solution not having been able to be placed within the legally allotted time.
France Media Agency in Geneva
January 16, 2024
- United States
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said Tuesday it was “alarmed” by the imminent execution of a death row inmate in the United States through a new method, nitrogen inhalation, believing that this could constitute torture.
In this type of execution, death is caused by hypoxia (depletion of oxygen).
“We are alarmed by the imminent execution in the United States of Kenneth Eugene Smith, using a new and untested method, nitrogen hypoxia,” said an OHCHR spokesperson. , Ravina Shamdasani, during a regular press briefing in Geneva.
This “could constitute torture or other cruel or degrading treatment under international law,” she said.
The spokesperson noted that Alabama's nitrogen hypoxia execution protocol does not provide for sedation, while the American Veterinary Association (AVMA) recommends administering a sedative to animals, even large ones, when they are euthanized in this way.
The United Nations is calling on authorities in the state of Alabama to halt Mr. Smith's execution, scheduled for January 25, and Ms. Shamdasani has expressed concern that the states of Mississippi and Oklahoma had also approved this method of execution.
On January 3, UN rapporteurs had already expressed their concern about this “first attempt” in the world of execution by nitrogen hypoxia, fearing that it “would lead to a painful and humiliating death.”
The execution of Mr. Smith by lethal injection in November 2022 for a murder on order committed in 1988 had been canceled at the last minute, the intravenous drips to inject him with the lethal solution having not been able to be placed in the legally allotted time.
His death sentence sparked controversy.
In 1988, an unfaithful and indebted husband hired him and another hitman to kill his wife during a fake burglary. Despite the husband's suicide, the police had traced the two killers.
Kenneth Smith was first sentenced to the death penalty but the trial was overturned on appeal. At his second trial in 1996, he was again convicted of murder, but the jurors were divided on the sentence: 11 out of 12 recommended a life sentence.
A judge then imposed the death penalty overriding their opinion, which was legal at the time, but is today banned throughout the United States.