As the death penalty debate reaches an all-time high with debates on newly introduced firing squads and gas chambers, the United Nations human rights office says death row inmate Clayton Lockett’s horrendous execution this week in Oklahoma might amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under international law and human rights and the UN urges President Barack Obama to declare a moratorium on death penalty executions.
In light of the latest death penalty atrocity, that of Clayton Lockett, the UN has urged U.S. authorities to place an immediate moratorium on death penalty executions, that are in direct opposition to all human rights.
Instead of adhering to human rights and international law, recognizing cruel and inhumane treatment, and following the UN’s recent suggestion, however, Obama has rejected the death penalty moratorium and the debate has turned from U.S.-sanctioned torture to possible U.S.-sanctioned firing squads and gas chambers.
Obama Rejects UN’s Death Penalty Moratorium Suggestion
A spokesman for the office, Rupert Colville, says Lockett’s prolonged death Tuesday is “the second case of apparent extreme suffering caused by malfunctioning lethal injections” reported in the U.S. this year, after Dennis McGuire’s execution in Ohio on Jan. 16 with an allegedly untested combination of drugs.
Colville told reporters Friday in Geneva that “the apparent cruelty involved in these recent executions simply reinforces the argument that authorities across the United States should impose an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty and work for abolition of this cruel and inhuman practice.”
Some of the three drugs used in a botched execution failed to enter Lockett’s system because his vein in which they were injected collapsed and this not noticed for 21 minutes, the state’s prison chief said. The prison chief urged changes to the state’s execution procedure.
In a scenario reminiscent of Mengele to this writer, American doctors spent almost an hour trying to insert needles into Lockett.
Medical officials tried for nearly an hour to find a vein in Lockett’s arms, legs and neck before finally inserting an IV into his groin, prisons director Robert Patton wrote in a letter to the governor Thursday detailing Lockett’s last day.
By the time a doctor lifted a sheet covering Lockett and noticed the line had become dislodged from the vein, all the execution drugs had already been administered, but there was no other ”suitable vein,” the report noted.
“The drugs had either absorbed into tissue, leaked out or both,” Patton wrote. “The director asked the following question: ‘Have enough drugs been administered to cause death?’ The doctor responded, ‘No.’”
At that time, Patton halted the Tuesday night execution. Lockett, however, was pronounced “dead of a heart attack” 10 minutes later.
According to Oklahoma’s execution rules, doctors and other personnel must give immediate emergency aid if a stay is granted while the lethal drugs are being administered. It is unclear if that happened. The report fails to say what happened between the time Patton called off the execution at 6:56 p.m. and when Lockett being pronounced dead at 7:06 p.m.
Did Lockett know his veins were unsuitable for injections?
On his last morning, Lockett fought with guards who attempted to remove him from his cell, so they shocked him with a stun gun, according to the report. After taken to a prison infirmary, a self-inflicted cut was found on Lockett’s arm that was determined not to require stitches. Lockett had refused food at breakfast and lunch, according to the report.
Madeline Cohen, an attorney for inmate Charles Warner, scheduled for execution hours after Lockett, said Oklahoma was revealing information about the events “in a chaotic manner.”
“As the Oklahoma Department of Corrections dribbles out piecemeal information about Clayton Lockett’s botched execution, they have revealed that Mr. Lockett was killed using an invasive and painful method — an IV line in his groin,” Cohen said in a statement. “Placing such a femoral IV line requires highly specialized medical training and expertise.”
Inserting IVs into the groin area, the upper thigh or pelvic region, is often done for trauma patients and in experienced hands can be straightforward, but injecting in the femoral vein can be tricky because it’s not as visible as arm veins and lies next to the femoral artery, said Dr. Jonathan Weisbuch, a physician in Phoenix.
Warner’s execution was initially rescheduled for May 13. Patton called Thursday for an indefinite stay. Cohen said she agreed that was necessary. Gov. Mary Fallin, who ordered one of her Cabinet members to investigate the botched execution, said Thursday she was willing to issue a 60-day stay for Warner, the longest allowed under state law, if needed to complete the inquiry.
“If it does require more time, then yes, I think they should take more time,” Fallin said Thursday. “We need to get it right.”
Get it right? Is murder ever “right?” Is the death penalty ever “right?” These are questions asked by more Americans these days. Those in 18 states agree that the answer is “No” in all circumstances. Other states have placed a moratorium on the death penalty, citing racism, a flawed justice system and a shortage of lethal injection drugs.
Shortage of lethal injection drugs, due to the EU ruling to halt its supply of them to the U.S., has prompted discussion on return of firing squads, gas chambers and electric chairs.
Mass gass chambers next?
As of 2010, the last person executed in a gas chamber was German national Walter LaGrand, sentenced to death before 1992 and executed March 3, 1999 in Arizona. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled he could not be executed by gas chamber, but that decision was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Gas is visible to the condemned, and he/she is advised to take several deep breaths to speed unconsciousness in order to prevent unnecessary suffering. Accordingly, execution by gas chamber is especially unpleasant for the witnesses to the execution due to the physical responses exhibited by the condemned during the process of dying. These responses can be violent, and can include convulsions and excessive drooling.” (Wikipedia)
Nazi concentration and extermination camps, including Auschwitz and Majdanek, used hydrogen cyanide in the form of Zyklon B. The first experimental gassing with Zyklon B was at Auschwitz I on September 3, 1941 in the cellar of Block 11, using 600 Soviet POWs and 250 other prisoners sick and no longer able to work.
Along with the Nazi cross-European policy of genocide against Jews, the SS “processed” in Poland thousands of Romani people, homosexuals, physically and mentally disabled, intellectuals and the clergy from all occupied territories.
Over half of all Americans support the death penalty (55%), a significant decline from 1996, when 78% favored capital punishment, according to Pew Research Center. Other than common decency, reasons Americans are questioning the death penalty today include Obama’s authorization of targeted killings of Americans (and anyone else standing up to high-level government crime), along with his National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that he has passed each year in office and the USAPATRIOT ACT, that Bush quickly passed after September 11, 2001.
As radical as it may seem, the fact is that under the Obama regime, as under the Bush regime, anyone, anywhere, any time can be accused without evidence of being a terrorist, captured, detained, tortured and assassinated. Furthermore, using Obama’s weapon of choice, drones, any individual is subject of a targeted killing by drone, 30,000 of the flying menaces soon to be patroling American skies.
President Barack Obama believes evidence shows the death penalty doesn’t effectively deter crime, but he believes in it, according to White House spokesman Jay Carney. Obama says some crimes are so heinous, the death penalty is merited, and that Lockett’s case was indisputably heinous.
Will authorized mass gas chamber executions of America’s unwanted victims, mainly blacks, be next?
Gas chamber at the Stutthof concentration camp (Wikipedia)
Obama’s spokesman Carney says the U.S. has a fundamental standard that the death penalty must be “carried out humanely.” He says everyone would recognize that this case fell short. Human rights defenders and many others, however, recognize any assassination or extermination is inhumane, immoral and barbaric.
The U.S. ranks 5th on the global execution scale and is the only western country that uses the death penalty. It is follows behind China, Saudi Arabia and nations it calls “rogue,” Iran and Iraq. As an independent country, Texas would rank 7th.
Death penalty violates most fundamental human right
Human rights advocates concur that Americans need to be thinking and discussing how to spend time and money making the United States a better place, not providing band aids to bullets holes in schools and communities leading to imprisonment, and not how to exterminate victims of a broken system mainly impacting the poor, the disabled and people of color.
The death penalty is a denial of the most basic human rights; it violates one of the most fundamental principles under widely accepted human rights law - —that states must recognize the right to life.
UN General Assembly, the representative body of recognized States, has called for an end to the death penalty. Human rights organizations agree that its imposition breaches fundamental enshrined human rights norms. Convention is quickly moving towards supporting a worldwide abolition.
UN General Assembly, the representative body of recognized States, has called for an end to the death penalty and human rights organizations agree that its imposition breaches fundamental enshrined human rights norms. Convention is quickly moving toward supporting a worldwide abolition.
Human rights advocates agree with Ana Zamora, senior policy advocate for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Northern California chapter.
Zamora says, ”Education should be a priority, not how to fix our multi-million dollar debacle known as the death penalty.”
Sources: United Nations, CBS DC, San Jose Inside
Photo Credits: The Holocaust / Europe Israel Press Association, Wikipedia
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