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United States: Türk regrets first execution by nitrogen asphyxiation


“I deeply regret the execution of Kenneth Eugene Smith in Alabama, despite serious concerns that this new and untested method of suffocation could amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” said Volker Türk, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, OHCHR.

Convicted of murder in 1988, Mr. Smith, 58, was sentenced to death in the state of Alabama. An attempt to execute him in 2022 failed.

Last week, the Human Rights Council called on Alabama to halt Mr. Smith’s execution and refrain from taking steps toward further executions by nitrogen asphyxiation.

On Thursday evening, nitrogen hypoxia gas was administered to Mr. Smith.

It took 22 minutes before he was officially pronounced dead, according to media reports.

According to media reports and other witnesses in the execution chamber, the prisoner was shaking violently, writhing and convulsing on the stretcher.

Before the execution, Alabama authorities reportedly described the use of pure nitrogen as “perhaps the most humane method of execution ever devised.”

The death penalty is incompatible with the fundamental right to life“, OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said in a statement on Friday morning. job on X, formerly Twitter.

We urge all states to place a moratorium on its use as a step toward universal abolition..”


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