Sunday, February 25, 2024

Kenneth Smith, the first US prisoner to die of nitrogen asphyxiation

The state of Alabama is getting ready now for the killings of Kenneth Smith, a 58-year-old inmate convicted of a murder committed in 1988, using a new method never before used in the country to apply the death penalty: nitrogen hypoxia.

If there are no last-minute changes and nothing goes wrong, it will be on Thursday when he will be executed using this technique that involves asphyxiating the prisoner with this gas, which enters his lungs instead of oxygen.

The state of Alabama must replace the lethal injection for this type of asphyxiation, as well as in the states of Mississippi and Oklahoma.

The reason for this change is due to the difficulty in the United States in finding the drugs and injecting them into the prisoner’s veins. The European ban forces them to find other methods, which are equally questioned by human rights defenders.

The UN, “alarmed” by the killing of nitrogen hypoxia

The UN, “alarmed” by the planned killing, indicated that this new method could amount to cruel and inhumane treatment of the damned, comparable even to torture.

In this sense, the spokesperson of the United Nations High Commissioner, Ravina Shamdasani, called on Alabama not to continue the “untested” system, and for this, in the case of animals, the United States Veterinary Medical Association recommends a first sedative.

In addition, the lawyers of Kenneth Smith, who has been on death row for three decades and whom they are trying to kill in 2022 by lethal injection, presented reports that also warned of “pain and suffering” during the process, said Shamdasani.

“We have serious doubts that Smith’s execution under these circumstances would have been a possible violation of the prohibition of torture or other cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishments,” emphasized the spokesperson of the United Nations High Commissioner, who took advantage of the case to once again question the use of the death penalty in general terms.

In particular, the UN considers that it violates the “fundamental right to life” and carries an “unacceptable risk of killing innocent people.” For this reason, “instead of inventing new ways” to use it, Shamdasani suggested that all countries use a moratorium to stop the killing with a view to the end of “universal abolition.”

World Nation News Desk
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