A painful and humiliating death UN compares new US

“A painful and humiliating death”: UN compares new US execution method to torture

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Tuesday it was “concerned” about the impending execution of a death row prisoner in the United States using a new method, nitrogen inhalation, believing it could constitute torture .

In this type of execution, death is caused by hypoxia (lack of oxygen).

“We are alarmed by the impending execution of Kenneth Eugene Smith in the United States using a new and untested method, nitrogen hypoxia,” an office spokeswoman, Ravina Shamdasani, said during a regular news conference 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 implementation protocol does not require sedation, while the American Veterinary Association (AVMA) recommends that even large animals be given a sedative when euthanized in this manner.

The United Nations is calling on authorities in the state of Alabama to stop Mr. Smith's execution scheduled for January 25, and Ms. Shamdasani expressed concern that the states of Mississippi and Oklahoma had also approved this method of execution.

Already on January 3, UN rapporteurs had expressed concern about this “first attempt” in the world at execution by nitrogen hypoxia, fearing that it “would result in a painful and humiliating death.”

Mr. Smith's execution by lethal injection in November 2022 for a murder committed in 1988 was canceled at the last minute because the intravenous infusions used to inject him with the lethal solution could not be administered within the time allowed by law.

His death sentence sparked controversy.

In 1988, an unfaithful and indebted husband hired him and another hitman to kill his wife in a fake burglary. Despite the man's suicide, the police had tracked down the two murderers.

Kenneth Smith was initially sentenced to death, but the trial was overturned on appeal. At his second trial in 1996, he was again found guilty of murder, but the jury was divided on the verdict: 11 of 12 recommended a life sentence.

A judge then imposed the death penalty by overruling her opinion, which was legal at the time but is now banned throughout the United States.