Tag Archives: Capital punishment

You Can't Prove A Man Innocent If You Have Killed Them Already


Countries whose laws do not provide for the death penalty for any crime

MACEDONIA (former Yugoslav Republic)
MICRONESIA (Federated States)


Countries whose laws provide for the death penalty only for exceptional crimes such as crimes under military law or crimes committed in exceptional circumstances

Countries which retain the death penalty for ordinary crimes such as murder but can be considered abolitionist in practice in that they have not executed anyone during the past 10 years and are believed to have a policy or established practice of not carrying out executions. The list also includes countries which have made an international commitment not to use the death penalty
CONGO (Republic)



Countries which retain the death penalty for ordinary crimes
CONGO (Democratic Republic)
KOREA (North)

1976 PORTUGAL abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
1978 DENMARK abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
1979 LUXEMBOURG, NICARAGUA and NORWAY abolished the death penalty for all crimes. BRAZIL, FIJI and PERU abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes.
1981 FRANCE and CAPE VERDE abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
1982 The NETHERLANDS abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
1983 CYPRUS and EL SALVADOR abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes.
1984 ARGENTINA abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes.
1985 AUSTRALIA abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
1987 HAITI, LIECHTENSTEIN and the GERMAN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC1 abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
1989 CAMBODIA, NEW ZEALAND, ROMANIA and SLOVENIA2 abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
1992 ANGOLA, PARAGUAY and SWITZERLAND abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
1993 GUINEA-BISSAU, HONG KONG4 and SEYCHELLES abolished the death penalty for all crimes. GREECE abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes.
1994 ITALY abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
1995 DJIBOUTI, MAURITIUS, MOLDOVA and SPAIN abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
1996 BELGIUM abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
1997 GEORGIA, NEPAL, POLAND and SOUTH AFRICA abolished the death penalty for all crimes. BOLIVIA and BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes.
1998 AZERBAIJAN, BULGARIA, CANADA, ESTONIA, LITHUANIA and the UNITED KINGDOM abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
1999 EAST TIMOR, TURKMENISTAN and UKRAINE abolished the death penalty for all crimes. LATVIA5 abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes.
2000 COTE D’IVOIRE and MALTA abolished the death penalty for all crimes. ALBANIA6 abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes.
2001 BOSNIA-HEZEGOVINA 7 abolished the death penalty for all crimes. CHILE abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes.
2002 TURKEY abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes. The FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA (now two states SERBIA and MONTENEGRO 9 ) and CYPRUS abolished the death penalty for all crimes
ARMENIA abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes
BHUTAN, SAMOA, SENEGAL and TURKEY abolished the death penalty for all crimes
LIBERIA 8 and MEXICO abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
PHILIPPINES abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
ALBANIA6 abolished the death penalty for all crimes. and RWANDA abolished the death penalty for all crimes. KYRGYZSTAN abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes.
UZBEKISTAN, CHILE and ARGENTINA abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
2009 BURUNDI and TOGO abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
2010 GABON removed the death penalty from its legislation.
2012 LATVIA abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

1. In 1990 the German Democratic Republic became unified with the Federal Republic of Germany, where the death penalty had been abolished in 1949.
2. Slovenia and Croatia abolished the death penalty while they were still republics of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The two republics became independent in 1991.
3. In 1993 the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic divided into two states, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
4. In 1997 Hong Kong was returned to Chinese rule as a special administrative region of China. Amnesty International understands that Hong Kong will remain abolitionist.
5. In 1999 the Latvian parliament voted to ratify Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights, abolishing the death penalty for peacetime offenses.
6. In 2007 Albania ratified Protocol No. 13 to the European Convention on Human Rights, abolishing the death penalty in all circumstances. In 2000 it had ratified Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights, abolishing the death penalty for peacetime offences.
7. In 2001 Bosnia-Herzegovina ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, abolishing the death penalty for all crimes.
8. In 2005 Liberia ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, abolishing the death penalty for all crimes.
9. Montenegro had already abolished the death penalty in 2002 when it was part of a state union with Serbia. It became an independent member state of the United Nations on 28 June 2006. Its ratification of Protocol No. 13 to the European Convention on Human Rights, abolishing the death penalty in all circumstances, came into effect on 6 June 2006.



And my personal e-mail to The TX Governor – A short post



12:57 PM (0 minutes ago)

It’s an automated response of course but really even here in Greece the 3rd world country the death penalty was abolished early 20th century. There are many ways for justice to be served. Not by death. You know how & why Greece abolished the death Penalty? The last one who was executed just wasn’t the guilty one! Which happens every time in USA.. you kill the wrong person!Please STOP KILLING PEOPLE OVER THERE! A life time sentence is much more of a punishment and offers the chance to set the accused one free if proven not guilty!


Germany and UK are selling Execution Drugs!Where was Amnesty International all those years?



The execution protocol used in most executing states in the U.S. consists of a cocktail of three drugs: the first, sodium thiopental, is supposed to anaesthetize the victim, the second, pancuronium bromide, paralyses him, and the third, potassium chloride, stops his heart. In reality, the second drug serves a purely ‘cosmetic’ function in the lethal injection, designed to spare spectators the risk of seeing the prisoner in pain should the first drug not work effectively.1 The risk of this is a very real one (anaesthesiologists train for years to administer anaesthesia; prison wardens on average 2.5 days) and the consequences are grave. If the anaesthetic in a three-drug procedure fails, the prisoner will die slowly and in agony, unable to signal that something has gone wrong due to the paralysis. Even the Supreme Court has acknowledged that if the anaesthetic does not work properly, there is an “unacceptable risk of suffocation from the administration of pancuronium bromide and pain from the injection of potassium chloride” Baze v. Rees, 553 U. S. 35, 53 (2008).


In January of this year, Hospira, the sole US manufacturer of the first drug in the cocktail, sodium thiopental, officially pulled this product off the market. The company had been forced to cease production of the drug due to manufacturing issues in the summer of 2010 and six months later came to the conclusion that it was not worth their while to recommence production.

The market for sodium thiopental is small. The drug, which is used very widely in hospitals in the UK, India and Africa, is no longer used for medicinal purposes in the USA. And though the drug remains a staple in the lethal injection cocktail, the quantities used are very low (on average, 5g per execution, and rarely more than 40 executions across the USA per year). Being off-patent, the drug is also very cheap to buy (roughly 35 rupees a gram from the manufacturer).

Hospira made a simple calculation: profits from sales of sodium thiopental were low; cost of retooling the company plant to meet US regulations, and cost to the company’s reputation, however, would be extremely high. For a company claiming to be committed to Advancing Wellness, collaboration in capital punishment was a PR disaster.

So Hospira exited the market, leaving the shelves of the execution chambers bare as the drugs reached their expiration date. Executions were put on hold while prison wardens scrambled to source lethal injection drugs elsewhere. First, they came to the UK. Then they tried Germany. Then Italy. Then Denmark. Then (most recently) India.

Every attempt was riddled with problems – problems which plagued the prisons and pharmaceutical manufacturers alike. It barely needs to be said that the US is an intensely litigious society, particularly when it comes to the death penalty. The issue is always furiously debated in legal and political circles and efforts to change the execution drugs or the protocol have spawned intense litigation, as well as provoking close federal scrutiny into the importation of these small but deadly quantities of drugs.

No importation of execution drugs has been made without multiple obstacles. The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) seized the supplies of drugs imported from the UK from California, Georgia and Tennessee, they ordered the seizure and destruction of drugs imported from India to Nebraska and South Dakota, and sent letters of admonition to a number of other states requesting that they hand over their illegally imported drugs.

But this is not all. Lawyers acting on behalf of death row inmates in every executing State have fought tooth and nail against the imports. Pharmaceutical manufacturers – most of whom were unaware that their products have been sold for this purpose until it is too late – find themselves dragged into lengthy and costly litigation in the US which inevitably affects their global reputation. The company which sold the British drugs, for example, is still being pursued by the US courts, who, most recently have been trying to issue a subpoena to the CEO of the company for documents relating to the drug sales.

Litigation on these issues is expected to last not months, but many years, and the manufacturers are the ones who suffer – in addition to the prisoners on death row.

It is an extremely unfortunate position for any healthcare provider to be in, as the manufacturers who have fallen victim to the execution drug trade in the past year and a half can attest. The damage, as will be seen below, is not only reputational, but fiscal too. Investors do not want to invest in drugs made for killing, and global manufacturers don’t want to partner with companies that collaborate in executions.

For the pharmaceutical industry more generally, trade in lethal injection drugs with the US will invariably have serious and wide-reaching implications. As has been seen already in Britain and in India, drugs which are exported to the US for use in executions are subject to the most intense and calculated scrutiny. Many of the legal arguments against lethal injections – particularly where the drugs have been imported – undermine the efficacy of the drugs, or the manufacturer of the drugs, that the prison is intending to use. Unfortunately, this often results litigation that will spill out of the court documents and sully the reputation of the industry as a whole.

The companies which have been drawn into the execution drug trade since the shortages began have explicitly disavowed the use of their medicines to kill and taken active steps to ensure they are not rendered complicit in this again in the future. The purpose of this document is to help everyone avoid having to shut the stable door after the horse has bolted: better that companies know what might happen and have the opportunity to make decisions beforehand.


In October 2010, Reprieve discovered that a wholesale company in Britain was supplying sodium thiopental to prisons across the USA.

The company, Dream Pharma, run by Matt Alavi from the back of a driving school in west London, had exported significant quantities of drugs from the UK to the US for use in executions. The exports had taken place with neither the knowledge or consent of either the manufacturer (Sandoz in Austria) or marketing authorisation holder (Archimedes Pharma in the UK). By the time they learned of the exports (their names were revealed during litigation in the US), it was too late. Sandoz and Archimedes, both reputable, conscientious manufacturers committed to manufacturing medicines to improve lives, were scandalized to hear that their drugs had instead been used to end lives.

In order to prevent further exports of the kind, Reprieve requested that UK Business Secretary, Vince Cable, put an export control on exports of sodium thiopental to the USA. The Minister agreed to do so when he learnt that:

1.) There is no legitimate trade in sodium thiopental between the UK and the US

2.) Sodium thiopental is no longer used for medical purposes in the US.

The UK government put an export control in place on 29th November, 2010, putting an abrupt end to Matt Alavi’s drug business. In the meantime, however, Mr. Alavi had managed to sell drugs to around 7 different execution chambers across the USA. He had hiked the cost up by 35 times the market rate for the drug, but even so, the profits he made could not outweigh the damage that was done to his and his business’ reputation as a result of his willing complicity in executions.

Mr. Alavi was pilloried by the press. He was condemned by pharmaceutical industry experts, manufacturers and doctors alike. No manufacturer wanted to do business with him following the revelations (which were covered in every big newspaper in the UK and the US) and his small backroom pharma company suffered significant losses.

Though Mr. Alavi was stopped in his tracks and much of the quantities of drugs he exported were subsequently seized by the DEA, several people were killed using the drugs before sanctions and preventative measures were put in place. Jeffrey Landrigan was the first in Arizona, then Brandon Rhode and Emanuel Hammond in Georgia.

Disturbingly, it seems that Dream Pharma’s sodium thiopental did not work effectively in the lethal injection when it was used. As a result, Rhode, Landrigan and Hammond would likely have died in agony. Dr Mark Heath, a renowned lethal injection expert, filed a sworn declaration stating that the fact that Brandon Rhode’s eyes remained open throughout his execution was highly unusual and strongly suggested that he was not properly anaesthetized and therefore conscious throughout the process. He also wrote that:

“…if the thiopental was inadequately effective Mr Rhode’s death would certainly have been agonizing; there is no dispute that the asphyxiation caused by pancuronium and the caustic burning sensation caused by potassium would be agonizing in the absence of adequate anesthesia.”

Lawyers in Arizona (where supplies of Dream Pharma sodium thiopental are still in the prison’s possession) continue to fight this issue in the courts. It is extremely unlikely that the prison will ever be allowed to use the drugs in executions, and in the meantime they, the manufacturer and the middleman will all be tied up in litigation that is likely to drag on for years.


Before Hospira decided to pull out of the execution drug market, they had considered transferring the manufacture of sodium thiopental from their plant in the US to a plant in Italy. Reprieve held a press conference on the issue with Livia Firth and members of the anti-death penalty group, Hands Off Cain in Rome in December 2010. They worked directly with the Italian government on strategies to prevent drugs manufactured in Italy from being used to kill prisoners in the USA. The Italian government line was firm: Hospira was to guarantee that the drugs wouldn’t be used in executions, or would not be permitted to manufacture in Italy at all.

Since Hospira knew that in all probability the drugs would be used in executions in the US, they decided to pull out of the market, stating:

“Hospira had intended to produce Pentothal at its Italian plant. In the last month, we’ve had ongoing dialogue with the Italian authorities concerning the use of Pentothal in capital punishment procedures in the United States – a use Hospira has never condoned. […] We cannot take the risk that we will be held liable by the Italian authorities if the product is diverted for use in capital punishment. Exposing our employees or facilities to liability is not a risk we are prepared to take. Given the issues surrounding the product, including the government’s requirements and challenges bringing the drug back to market, Hospira has decided to exit the market.”


By this point, most manufacturers in Europe were aware of the issues surrounding the execution drug trade and extremely reluctant to be involved. The health and trade ministries in Austria and Germany had issued statements to their national pharmaceutical industries, warning them of the dangers and advising them not to sell sodium thiopental to the USA.

Despite Germany’s resolute opposition to the use of medicines in executions, in July of this year, US Commerce Secretary, Gary Locke, asked his German counterpart (Philip Rösler) if Germany would be prepared to sell sodium thiopental to the US.

Rösler, who had been in contact with Reprieve about these issues previously, denied the request, telling the German media that he would also put in place a ban on exports of this drug to the US should the necessity arise.


Failing to get hold of sodium thiopental, some States opted to change their lethal injection protocol to pentobarbital. Pentobarbital is a sedative licensed in the US by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for certain therapeutic uses, including preoperative sedation and the treatment of seizures. Ohio, Oklahoma, Arizona and Texas were the first States to switch, and others soon followed suit.

The move was a disaster for the one FDA-approved manufacturer of the drug: Danish company, Lundbeck. They quickly became known as the US prisons’ execution drug supplier of choice, and every time there was an execution, their name was splashed across the newspapers in Denmark and the US. The company tried writing letters to prisons and governors in the US expressing their opposition to the use of their drugs in executions, but to no avail. The US authorities would not listen.

Over the next 6 months, Lundbeck saw key investors publically divest over this issue, their public image rating drop by 25 points in the leading business paper’s annual report, stock prices drop, online protests and boycotts against them, and constant negative media coverage (including an open letter signed by 100 doctors in leading medical journal, The Lancet).

Lundbeck took matters in hand and block the prisons from getting hold of their drugs directly. Since the drug was manufactured in the US, export controls wouldn’t work.

However, Lundbeck was able to redesign their distribution system to ensure that only legitimate medical users of pentobarbital would be allowed to purchase it.

On July 1st 2011, Lundbeck announced the distribution overhaul, denying the US prison executioners access to their drugs once and for all. Their desire not to be complicit in capital punishment was satisfied, and they further received accolades from the press and public alike. Indeed, the very same doctors who petitioned against the company in The Lancet then bought shares in the company after the distribution change in a show of moral and fiscal solidarity and support.

Lundbeck still faces the public relations nightmare of having the drugs that got through (before their new protocol) used in executions. Litigation will continue over this for years to come.


There has been extensive media coverage of this issue in Europe over the past 18 months, and it has been a hot topic of debate among politicians, medical professionals and the pharmaceutical industry alike. There is a consensus in Europe are agreed that medicines should be used to improve the life and health of patients, not to torture and kill prisoners. As such, and to prevent any further shipments of execution drugs slipping through the net and into the US prison system, the European Commission has drafted an amendment to a European regulation which will make it illegal to sell sodium thiopental and other potential execution drugs to the US without a license.

This EU-wide control will have a major impact on the execution drug market in the USA. No longer able to get sodium thiopental from Europe or pentobarbital from Danish manufacturer, Lundbeck, the prisons will once again find their execution chambers dry and be looking for a new supply.


And it looks highly likely that they’ll turn again to India. India has already been the source of three shipments of execution drugs to US prisons. The first two went to South Dakota and Nebraska prisons in February 2011; the latest went to Nebraska prison (last month). There was a another attempted shipment in May, but the manufacturer in question realised what the purpose of the sale was in time and managed to cancel it before any drugs were shipped.

Each of the shipments has apparently been co-ordinated by an Indian businessman named Chris Harris. On the first occasion, Mr. Harris used drugs marketed by Kayem Parmaceuticals; on the second, he tried to use Ganpati Exim’s drugs; on the third and most recent, he exported drugs manufactured by Naari. All three of these companies have distanced themselves from Mr Harris and say they do not want – and never wanted – anything to do with the execution drug trade. Kayem was the first corporate victim. Following the revelation that Nebraska prison had received enough drugs to kill over 166 prisoners, the company found itself the subject of huge press interest (articles in The Hindu and the Times of India, as well as US papers like the Wall Street Journal) and put through serious legal and regulatory scrutiny. The premises were searched by the Indian FDA, lawyers wrote to the company directors, the site was photographed by journalists and investigators, and the material became the centre of litigation in the US which continues in South Dakota and Nebraska to this day.

Mr. Harris had been working at Kayem Pharmaceuticals at the time. Following (and as a result of) the execution drug affair, Navneet Verma, the Director of Kayem, broke off all ties with Mr. Harris. Mr. Verma issued a press statement declaring that “as an Indian pharma dealer who cherish the ethos of Hinduism, [they] will refrain from selling the drug where the purpose is for lethal injection”. He further stated in an email to a lawyer working on behalf of a death row inmate in Nebraska expressing his gratitude that his company was no longer in the firing line, and that Mr. Harris would not be able to get the company into further trouble: “we are extremely thankful that we have been saved from the blackmail of these Drug Peddlers who were exercising coercion on us for the sake of Foreign Orders”.

Leaving Kayem, Mr. Harris apparently then set up shop with a US business partner (www.harrispharmallp.com). He tried to buy execution drugs from another Indian manufacturer, Ganpati Exim, but when the company directors realised the purpose of the sale, they also cut off ties with him, stating: “We at Ganpati Exim are committed to providing access to medicines for the purposes of improving the lives of patients around the world. We are deeply opposed to the use of medicines in killing prisoners and wish to have no part in facilitating capital punishment in the USA or elsewhere.”

Mr. Harris met with similar resistance from the US import broker, Caligor Rx, who also ceased dealing with Mr. Harris when they learnt of the controversy surrounding this drug, stating: “Our mission is to connect patients with the medicines that will improve their lives, and as such we will not engage in trade of products used for capital punishment.”

Most recently, Mr. Harris turned to Naari. According to the company, Mr. Harris claimed that he wanted to get supplies of sodium thiopental to take over to Zambia for registration there (sodium thiopental is still widely used as an anaesthetic in Africa, whereas it is used solely for executions in the US). Believing that Mr. Harris was sincere in his aims, and keen to provide this essential medicine to the developing world, Naari supplied Mr. Harris with 485 vials of sodium thiopental. Little did Naari know that Mr. Harris would sell these drugs directly on to Nebraska prison and that the first Naari would hear of this would be via a press release issued by the prison. Naturally, Naari too has since broken all ties with Mr. Harris and has also written to the Chief Justice of Nebraska Supreme Court to inform him that they are “deeply opposed to the use of medicines in executions” and that “Mr. Harris misappropriated our medicines and diverted them from their intended purpose and use”.

Reprieve is working with Naari to help them prevent their drugs being used in executions. Things are going well, Naari are doing all they can, and there is hope that we may be successful. Nevertheless, there can be no doubt that Naari’s global reputation has been affected by this affair. As in the case of the Kayem drugs, the exported sodium thiopental will be the subject of much heated debate and litigation, will be tested, contested, and tested again. And it is not just Naari that suffers. The indian pharmaceutical inducstry as a whole will be scrutinised by the US authorities. Any possible vulnerable area will be leapt upon. And all for $130 dollars a year.

The value of this trade is so small – and the cost of it so great – that no US manufacturer wants to participate in it. At 35 rupees a gram, 5 grams an execution, and rarely more than 40 executions a year, this really is a profitless business. What’s more, the cost to an individual manufacturer – and to the pharmaceutical industry as a whole – is unthinkably high. Litigation is fraught, embroiled and lengthy. Opposition to the trade is fierce. Protests from the medical community are strong. Ethical investors won’t tolerate it. Big pharma manufacturers eschew it. There really is no capital to be gained in capital punishment.Source


UK is assisting USA in death row executions despite the EU ban!

By Emma Marris

A shortage of a drug used in executions in the United States has sent U.S. states scrambling to find supplies, or alternative drugs. Among the 35 states in which capital punishment is legal, some–including Arizona and California–had been sourcing a key execution drug, sodium thiopental, through a company in London–until UK government officials put a stop to its export. The only U.S. company making the drug, which sought to move its manufacturing base to Italy, has now given up producing sodium thiopental because it cannot assure Italian officials that it won’t be used for executions.

The situation demonstrates that although pharmaceutical supply chains are global, the morals and mores of drug use are decidedly local. Will U.S. states be forced to stop executing their death-row inmates by a drug embargo? And who decides which drugs are used to inject prisoners condemned to die? Nature explores an ethical dilemma.

How common is lethal injection?

Lethal injection is a common mode of execution in the United States. Of 1,238 executions since 1976 there, 1,064 have been by injection of lethal drugs. Outside the country, China is executing more prisoners given the death sentence by injection and fewer by firing squad. Officials there have called it “cleaner, safer and more convenient,” according to a report by human-rights organization Amnesty International.

How was the U.S. protocol devised?

A standard three-drug sequence is used in the United States to execute prisoners condemned to death. It was not developed by any scientific panel of pharmacologists or ever published in a peer-reviewed forum. Rather, it was invented by one man in 1977: then Oklahoma chief medical examiner Jay Chapman. Chapman was interested in devising a more humane alternative to the electric chair or firing squad. He chose three drugs, to be administered in sequence: sodium thiopental to render the condemned unconscious; pancuronium bromide, to paralyze the body and lungs; and potassium chloride to stop the heart.

Experts have challenged the protocol as administered as cruel. One study suggested that some dying prisoners are aware and suffering as their lungs and heart stop.

Chapman’s home-made recipe caught on, however. It is the standard for most of the US states that execute prisoners by lethal injection.

Why is there a shortage of sodium thiopental?

In recent years, sodium thiopental has been used less and less often for anesthesia, as newer drugs have gained favor. For some time, all the sodium thiopental in the United States has come from a drug company called Hospira, based in Lake Forest, Ill. In the summer of 2009, Hospira had to suspend production of the drug. The company that made the active ingredient–which Hospira would not name, but US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) records identify as Abbott Laboratories–stopped making it. Hospira began looking for a replacement source and was planning to move production of vials of the drug for all its markets to a plant in Liscate, near Milan, Italy.

Near the beginning of this year, the Italian government demanded that Hospira assure that none of the drug would be used for executions. Unable to control who buys their products and what they use them for, Hospira decided to stop making sodium thiopental on 21 January. “We cannot take the risk that we will be held liable by the Italian authorities if the product is diverted for use in capital punishment,” the company said in a statement. “Exposing our employees or facilities to liability is not a risk we are prepared to take.”

Hospira dropped the drug “with regret”, according to spokesman Daniel Rosenberg, who says that it still has a legitimate medical use, although it currently accounts for less than a quarter of a percent of Hospira’s sales. The decision will, however, end the company’s qualms about the use of its product by prisons, which is something the company has long opposed. “We’ve been regularly reaching out to every state in the country to tell them that we don’t approve of this use,” says Rosenberg.

Has the shortage stopped any executions?

It delayed some. States had to work hard to find unexpired vials of the drug, and California and Arizona among others ended up importing some from a UK-based concern called Dream Pharma, based in west London, according to the London-based prisoner-rights group Reprieve. But on 30 November, the UK Department of Business, Innovation and Skills banned all export of sodium thiopental to the United States. “Our government is completely against capital punishment,” says a spokesperson for the department. “The only trade we were doing on this drug was for capital punishment.”

The UK government is now considering whether there is enough legitimate trade in the two other drugs that are used in the U.S. execution protocol to warrant keeping their export uncontrolled. (Pancuronium bromide, for instance, is used as a muscle relaxant.) Meanwhile, companies and government officials in Germany have come together against supplying the United States with any sodium thiopental for executions, according to the Associated Press.

Did the FDA “help” states obtain sodium thiopental?

Not according to a spokesperson–but they didn’t hinder the states either. They did not interfere with the importation of the drug from the United Kingdom, despite knowing where the drug was headed. A spokesperson says: “In 2009 and 2010, FDA permitted the importation of several shipments of sodium thiopental to state Departments of Correction. In doing so, FDA deferred to law enforcement in the use of substances for lethal injection, which is consistent with the agency’s long-standing policy. The agency did not conduct any review of these products for safety, effectiveness or quality.”

Now that Hospira has stopped making the drug and the United Kingdom has controlled export, will a lack of sodium thiopental end lethal injection in the United States?

Unlikely. States may be able to source the drug from countries less squeamish about its end use. Or, more likely, they will follow the lead of Oklahoma, which has recently switched to using pentobarbital in place of sodium thiopental. Pentobarbital is made by only one company in the United States, Lundbeck, based in Deerfield, Illinois, and owned by Copenhagen-based company H. Lundbeck.

A spokeswoman for Lundbeck, Sally Young, seemed horrified on Wednesday that her company’s product had almost surely been used as part of the process to execute three prisoners in Oklahoma. She only learned of the use from reporters. “We do not in any way promote any off-label use of the product,” she says. “The use of our product to end lives contradicts everything we are in business to do.”

With both its active ingredient supplier and wholesale manufacturer in the United States, Lundbeck may not face any disruptions of its supply chain on moral grounds, as Hospira did.

Young says Lundbeck has sent a letter to the state of Oklahoma formally objecting to the use of pentobarbital in executions, but “from a legal perspective, we can’t control that”.

If the FDA won’t and the manufacturer can’t stop a drug from being used in executions, who in the United States can?

A manufacturer can stop a drug being used for executions by ceasing to make it, although this will also affect any patients using the drug medicinally. Manufacturers sell to wholesalers, or sometimes direct to pharmacies. Then drugs are prescribed by a doctor and dispensed by a pharmacist, and it is these two professionals who ultimately bear the onus of deciding whether the use of a drug is appropriate. The American Medical Association has forbidden its members from participating in executions, so any medical professionals who order drugs for executions do so at the risk of their professional reputations (see “Will medics’ qualms kill the death penalty?”).

Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections (DOC) spokesman Jerry Massie says that they obtained pentobarbital from “a private pharmacist” who is being kept anonymous for fear that he will be a target for attacks. The transaction is apparently in cash, and no receipt is filed. “He just obtains it and we pick it up from him,” says Massie. “No prescription or anything.”

Phil Woodward, executive director of the Oklahoma Pharmacists Association, says that according to the Oklahoma Pharmacy Practice Act, “a pharmacist would need a prescription from a physician” before dispensing the drugs. “So somewhere within the DOC, a physician would still have to submit an order for this product.” As to whether the anonymous pharmacist acted ethically, Woodward says, “Our association has never taken a stand one way or the other on this matter.” Source

Death Row Group Name: The Carbon Copies # 12


Group No.:


Group Name:


News URL:



Richard Willing

News Paper:


Area Key Word:

Anesthetic, Lethal Injection, Execution, Capital Punishment

Chemistry Key Word:

Lethal Chemicals: Sodium thiopental, Pancuronium bromide, Potassium Chloride, Barbiturates

Imagine being an inmate on death row, minutes away from being executed. What is on your mind? A well educated chemist might ask, “Will the sodium thiopental disrupt the activity of my nervous system with enough efficiency to fall asleep quickly and feel no pain?” The lay-inmate such as Nelson would probably ask, “Will it hurt?” The issue of pain from lethal injections has been controversial since it was first performed in the U.S. in 1982. Testing began earlier in other countries. In addition to these facts check out the following websites for more history and details about the process.

The apparent answer to the introductory question is no. Many feel the drugs that are used are painless. There are many supporters of the death penalty, with over 70% of Americans in favor of the punishment. However, some argue that any execution process is extremely painful. The American Civil Liberties Union, along with many other organizations, oppose lethal injections. Check out the Amnesty International webpage for arguments against capital punishment. Dr James Welsh, author of a report on the Amnesty International website said, “In practice, there have been a number of cases in which [lethal injection] has failed to bring about the quick, painless death of the condemned extolled by its proponents.” The consistent argument of those opposed is that the injection of drugs could be flawed, resulting in pain and suffering.

What are these drugs? Lethal injections involve the administering of three drugs, all which have a vital role in the process. First in the killer cocktail and the most highly debated is sodium thiopental, also known as Pentothal. As mentioned above Pentothal is a sedative, which reacts with and blocks receptors in the nervous system, causing the individual to fall unconscious. Alone Pentothal is not lethal; in fact it has many other uses including use as mild anesthetic and commercial sleeping pills. Next, pancuronium bromide (Pavulon) paralyzes muscles and shuts down breathing. Lastly, potassium chloride is injected to stop the heart. Pavulon and potassium chloride individually are deadly; they are used together to ensure that the process is carried out flawlessly. Articles in the British Medical Journal, and The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty discusses the combination of drugs and their effects to the body in further detail.

Pentothal and Pavulon are both organic based drugs. Pentothal is an ultra short-acting barbiturate, derived from barbituric acid, the formation of pentothal is as below. Barbiturates are defined as any derivative of barbituric acid that can be used as a sedative or depressant to the central nervous system. More organic chemical information on barbiturates can be found in Chapter 21 Section 8 of Carey’s Organic Chemistry Fifth Edition.

Journal of Organic Chemistry Source:
Barry M. Troust and Gretchen M. Schroeder J. Org. Chem. 2000, 65, 1569-1573.

Question 1:

Sodium thiopental is classified as a barbiturate; What are the specefic characteristics of the barbiturate group?
(Identification of Components and Relationships (ICR))

Answer 1:

Barbiturates are a group of organic molecules derived from Barbituric acid; all members of the Barbiturate family can be used as sedatives. All barbiturates inhibit the functions of the central nervous system. For more information on the structure of Barbiturates check out the work of Jack DeRuiter

Question 2:

Chemical processes as with most things are not always perfect, be it from human error or from flaws in the reaction things can go wrong when administering lethal injections. What are some of the things that can go wrong with the chemistry envolved?
(Seeking Clarification (SCL))

Answer 2:

If the three drugs envolved are mixed before entering the convicts body, a white precipitate will form, causing blockage of the I.V. If the I.V. is blocked the effects of the Sodium Thiopental could easily wear off, and the convict could undergo great deals of pain before dying.

Question 3:

Check out this article from howstuffworks.com,particularly the map showing state by state execution methods. Does this map prove lethal injection is the prefered method of execution in the U.S., and if so why do you think it is?
(Reasoning Using Quantitative Data (RQD))

Answer 3:

Yes, It is clearly shown that lethal injection is the prefered method of execution. Out of the 40 states that currently use capital punishment, 38 have lethal injection as their primary method. This is because lethal injection has been proved to be a much quicker, and more humane killer than its alternatives.

Question 4:

Sodium thiopental is used as the first drug in the trio of drugs in the lethal injection process. If Sodium thiopental was used during surgery, as it commonly is, exclusively, what would be the result of this, and why is it not used that way?
(Flexibility and Adaptability of Scientific Reasoning (FAR))

Answer 4:

Sodium thiopental quickly wears off, and sometimes starts to wear off as soon as it starts working. It is used the majority of the time simply to make the patient unconscious so that follow up anesthetics can be administered with less pain. If Sodium thiopental was used exclusively the patient may remain conscious of their surroundings and possibly be in excruciating pain.

Question 5:

Given the information just presented, and the particular chemicals used, do you think lethal injection really is a “painless” process?
(Reasoning about Philosophical, Societal, and Political Implications (PSP))

Answer 5:

This answer will vary from person to person depending on their moral standpoint. Those who oppose lethal injections might argue that pentothal is not a strong enough sedative; its effects wear off to quickly. This lack of sedation will leave the inmate helpless to stop the pain of dying by paralysis and heart failure. Also, opposition might say that even if the process is physically painless, the mental pain caused by the ordeal is far worse. The inmate will be caused much stress and anxiety before life functions are terminated, and his or her family will suffer much grief do to the loss of a loved one. On the other hand, those who support lethal injections could argue that the drugs used are the best available, and that there is no pain caused. Supporters could also argue the point of “who cares?” Even if the Pentothal is not effective, and the inmates can feel pain as they die, does it matter? To get to where they are at they certainly did not show their victims the same compassion so why should we worry so much about the way they die. This is not an issue that will be put to rest anytime soon. Unless we figure out a way to communicate with the dead, it is nearly impossible to determine whether the chemical process is painless or not. Even if the effectiveness of sodium thiopental can be determined, the matter will still not be put to rest. There will always be the moral crusaders who oppose capital punishment no matter the method. There will always be the people who feel no compassion for the inmate, and feel the only way justice can be reached is with the “eye for an eye” law. There will always be the fence straddlers who say execution might me good on rare circumstances if the method is humane, and the crime committed warrants such actions. To determine whether the process is “painless” depends on the beliefs of the reader.


Children’s rights and the death penalty in the Arab States- the documentation


By Professor Kamel FI L AL I
Vice Chairman of the United Nations CRC.

On the 24th of January 2008, the Arab Charter of human rights entered into force in conformity with its article 49(b) which provides that:” the present Charter shall enter into effect two months after the date on which the seventh instrument of ratification is deposited with the secretariat of the League of Arab States”. Algeria ,Bahrein , Jordan Occupied Palestinian Territories ,Syrian Arab Republic , United Arab Emirates are the seven ratifying States.
On 30 January 2008 The United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights issued a Statement in which reference was made to the incompatibility of some of the provisions of the Arab Charter (there after the Charter ) with international norms and standards .These concerns included among others the approach of death penalty for children.
In the following an attempt will be made in order to understand the issue of death penalty in the Arab States, the specific legal and cultural difficulties which slow the path of harmonisation. In a second part of this statement the author of this note will concentrate on Children’s rights, their protection and the death penalty according to international standards.
I- New trends towards death penalty in the Arab world.

Today, it can be said that few Arab States have abandoned the death penalty opting for a system of sanctions taken from the western world. It is nevertheless true that some others continue to practice and enforce the death penalty as part of Islamic law in serious cases such as adultery, theft, homicide, apostasy, witch crafting etc…
The death penalty is a sanction which still appears in legislations of Arab States in general and is part of their penal system of sanctions. This constitutes the main obstacle to change and explains why very few have ratified or acceded to the second Protocol to the International Covenant on civil and political rights dealing with the abolition of the death penalty.
Attempts have been made in Jordan for example towards a limited enforcement of the death penalty by reducing the number of crimes for which it would apply, a draft for that purpose has been established but met with swift resistance from people, intellectuals and members of the Jordanian Bar Association .The denunciation of such Project was made on the base that the western influence was presiding the action which in turn was declared unacceptable .They added that the death penalty in its very nature belongs to sharia law and as such should remain in the corpus of sanctions as provided for in Islamic law ,the latter being unchangeable.
Sudan is another case which illustrates the difficulties met by Arab States to introduce amendments to the death penalty in their penal law, since this State suspended all executions of these sentences in 1985 , but resumed this old practice after the political changes that occurred in the county. A new criminal law was enacted in 1991.
Algeria seems to be joining the path of abolitionist since it considers today that there is a “de facto abolition” of the death penalty and although some judicial decisions emanating from criminal court continue to apply article 50 of the penal code providing for the death penalty. It has nevertheless suspended all executions since 1993. In 2004 the Algerian Minister of justice declared that the death penalty should be abolished. Algeria progresses in this matter are important since it already abolished the death penalty for economic crimes.
It can be said also that the difficulties met by Arab States are pertaining to the mere existence of intangible rules in some constitutions which impose the application of sharia law or in some other cases the Constitutions provide that Islam is the religion of the State , thus placing the sharia law among the main source of law and consequently imposing a hierarchy of norms and an obligation to enact legislations within the context and principles taken from sharia law.
It can be said that the existing trend generates serious preoccupations since death penalty and executions for example of adults remain a real fact and in a regrettable high number.
II- Children and the death penalty.
Article 7 of the Arab Charter stipulates that:
(a) Sentence of death shall not be imposed on persons under 18 years of age, unless otherwise stipulated in the laws in force at the time of the commission of the crime.
(b) The death penalty shall not be inflicted on a pregnant woman prior to her delivery or on a nursing mother within two years from the date of her delivery; in all cases, the best interests of the infant shall be the primary consideration.
Article 7 of the Charter seems to suggest that the general rule is that a child as defined in article 1 of the Convention on the rights of the child, (…every human being below the age of eighteen years) cannot be sentenced to the death. Then article 7 operates by a transfer of the matter related to the death penalty to the discretion of the State who can impose it or not according to its national legislation.
Moreover, the second part of article 7 (a) which stipulates:“….In force of the time of the commission of the crime” seems to be rejecting the full protection given to the child by the United nations Convention . According to this international instrument, it is prohibited to render a sentence using the death penalty on a person under eighteen at the time of the crime, suspend execution and enforce it once the person reaches majority. The Committee on the rights of the child (there after the Committee) has always recommended that a person should not be executed for a crime committed when she was under eighteen years old , for example in one of its Concluding observations it observed that : “”The Committee remains concerned that national legislation appears to allow children between the age of 16 and 18 to be sentenced to death with a two years suspension of execution .It is the opinion of the Committee that the imposition of suspended death on children constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment .It is the Committee view that the aforementioned provisions of national law are incompatible with the principles and provisions of the Convention ,notably those of its article 37(a)
(CRC/C/15/Add.56para.21) .This directly implies that there is a tangible risk and a possibility that children can face such a grave measure if national laws provide for such sanction. The fact that this penalty can only be pronounced for some serious and grave crimes doesn’t reduce the concern. It is important to stress here on the fact that article 7 is not compatible with the principles put forward by article 37(a) of the Convention. This provision (art.37) prohibits the death penalty for persons below eighteen .The Committee reiterates this in its general comment n°10 on children’s rights in Juvenile justice (CRC/C/GC/10). It is also noted under article 6 of the Covenant on civil and political rights which states that : “sentence of death shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons under eighteen years of age and shall not be carried on pregnant women” .
The Committee has raised the issue with a number of States party for example: “The Committee takes note of the information that no child is sentenced to death and that capital punishment is not passed to persons who commit a crime before they reach the year of majority (in general 18 years ). Nevertheless it deeply concerned that judges have the discretionary power which is often exercised when presiding over criminal cases involving children to decide that a child has reached majority at an earlier age and as a consequence capital punishment is imposed for offence by persons before they have reached the age of eighteen .The Committee is deeply alarmed that this is a serious violation of the fundamental right under article 37 of the convention” (CRC/C/SAU/CO/para32and33).
Experts from United Nations treaty bodies have expressed their worries as regard to the harmony of the Charter with international norms and standards while contributing to the preparatory work in Cairo ; the wording of article 7 suggest that for the drafters of the Charter “ Specificities “have prevailed over” universalism”.
It is also important to remind that even if in the practice the execution of children do occur in rare cases the concern will continue to be there until the full withdrawal of the controversial legislation from positive law at both level national and international. Again the wording of article 7 of the Charter suggest a situation of no harmony with international conventions related to human rights and it is very legitimate to consider it as a departure from the clear prohibition of the death penalty referred to in Article 37 (a) of the Convention which provides that “…neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without a possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years old”.
The interpretation of article 7 should be read in light with article 43 of the same Charter which read: Nothing in this Charter may be construed or interpreted as impairing the rights and freedoms protected by the domestic laws of the States parties or those set forth in the international and regional human rights instruments which the States parties have adopted or ratified, including the rights of women, the rights of the child and the rights of persons belonging to minorities.
The protected rights to which article 43 of the Charter refers are those which are common to the Charter and the Convention and were there are no conflict. The death penalty is a matter were views are not convergent and the understanding is today at least in some Arab States to suspend execution but to keep it in the legislation or even declaring before the Treaty bodies that a national debate has been engaged with all actors of society and that the States are about producing a draft bill prohibiting the death penalty on persons less than eighteen years of age. The Committee on the rights of the child raised the issue with a number of States parties and emphasized that it is not enough that the death penalty is not applied to children. Its prohibition regarding children must be confirmed in legislation. Finally it can be said that article 43 of the Charter does not address the subject of the death penalty.
All the Arab States have ratified the Convention on the rights of the Child with no reservations to article 37 and most of then have ratified the Covenant on civil and political rights. The ratification creates obligation for them not to sentence or enforce the death penalty on children in their territory. If conflict arises between the Charter and the Convention the latter should prevail according to article 30 of the Vienna Convention on the law of treaties of 1969.


Iran prepares to execute a Christian pastor for apostasy from Islam

In the year 2012, Iran prepares to execute a Christian pastor for apostasy from Islam. Nuclear aspirations and medieval mindsets are apparently compatible.

After nearly two-and-a-half years of tormenting an imprisoned Christian, the Islamic Republic of Iran has now confirmed that it is prepared to execute him. His crime? At age 19 he left the religion of his birth—Islam—and converted to Christianity, becoming a pastor in the beleagured Christian community there. Is there a connection between this move of Iran and the impact of the latest international sanctions on that state noted for its wild rhetoric and nuclear ambitions ?

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was first arrested in October 2009 and charged with apostasy. Imprisoned since then, he has repeatedly been pressured to renounce Christianity and to affirm belief in Islam. In December 2011, he was offered release in return for his agreement that Muhammad, the Muslim prophet, was a messenger sent by God. This he refused to do. His steadfastness caused apparent consternation with the authorities who delayed proceedings in his case several times—relegating it to another court, imposing conditions for the finding of guilt, and blatantly attempting to change the charges. At times, there was even doubt as to whether he was still alive or not.

Now however, it has been confirmed that a sentence of death against the pastor has recently (sometime in February 2012) been issued by a trial court in Iran. Executions there can be carried out with little notice and in secret. Internationally, in light of the urgency, pressure is mounting on Iran to release Nadarkhani, who has remained silent throughout his ordeal lest his words provide more fuel to be used against him..

Iran’s Death Sentence for Nadarkhani: Retaliation for Sanctions?

Nadarkhani, as an apostate from Islam, is liable for the death penalty in Iran, which follows a legal system based on Sharia law. His case is not unique in Iran nor in the wider Muslim world.

Speaking of apostates, Turkish author and columnist, Mustafa Akyol, states, “These renegade Muslims may well face the death penalty in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Sudan, and other forms of oppression in many Muslim societies.”

Acknowledging that this contravenes the most basicof human rights, he goes on to explain, “The reason for this systemic violation of religious freedom is, unfortunately, religious. Most classic schools of Shariah consider apostasy from Islam a crime punishable by death.”
Security Concerns Also Cited for Religious Persecution

However, followers of many faiths, not just Christians, are under pressure in Iran, seen as security threats to the state. A mullah recently stated: “The circles for promotion of Christianity, Baha’ism, Wahhabism, Sufism… should be eliminated with the efforts of the Law Enforcement Force as per God’s wish. The most significant psychological disease is created by these meetings and circles. They are corrupt and the biggest disrupters of the country’s security” (Present Truth).
More on this topic

Sharia Law in Iran: Death Penalty for Christian Youcef Nadarkhani
Christian Pastor Nadarkhani Stands Firm—Iran Threatens Execution
Yadegari Prison Sentence Analyzed

Note that this enmity extends beyond apostates from Islam and beyond non-Muslims—even Muslim sects, other than Iran’s predominant Shi’a sect, are targeted.
Speculation as to Iran’s Motives

Sharia law could provide justification in the Iranian view for the death sentence on Nadarkhani; however, undercurrents are present in this case which present intriguing possibilities as to other motivation on Iran’s part.

Iran has recently been the target of increased international sanctions due to its nuclear weapons program—widely believed to exist, but which it has not acknowledged. As a result, it has responded with threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic shipping lane. Some are seeing a connection between the imminent execution of Nadarkhani and Iran’s predicament.

Fox News is reporting: “It is also feared that Nadarkhani will be executed in retaliation as Iran endures crippling sanctions and international pressure in response to its nuclear agenda and rogue rhetoric. The number of executions in Iran has increased significantly in the last month.”

However, another possibilty is that this new development allows the authorities again to pressure the condemend man to recant—but now with a sharper edge to their coercion, with a confirmed death sentence hanging over his head. A recantation by Nadarkhani would be a huge victory for Iran’s fundamentalist rulers—an affirmation of the rightness of the Islamic way in full view of the watching world.

Another explanation for the announcement of the death penalty at this time could be that Iran will use the current confused situation around its nuclear status, with sanctions and threats swirling, as a smokescreen to carry out what it has long intended to do—execute a Christian dissident.

Or, is it that by upping the pressure in this highly prominent and widely watched case, that Iran would hope to bargain Nadarkhani’s fate for a lessening of sanctions? Regardless of Iran’s sometimes inscrutable motivation, the result of this confirmation of the death penalty for Nadarkhani is that the suffering of an innocent man and his family has been exacerbated.
Medieval Laws in a Nuclear Age

A state that has institutionalized religious discrimination and denial of religious freedom is a state whose thinking has not yet entered the 21st century—despite any apparent scientific and technological accomplishments.

Moreover, a state that imposes capital punishment, or the threat thereof, for matters of personal belief is medieval in spirit—one that cannot be entrusted with nuclear capability. Iran’s treatment of Pastor Nadarkhani is bolstering the arguments of those who claim it should not have nuclear weapons..

Read more at Suite101: Iran’s Death Sentence for Nadarkhani: Retaliation for Sanctions? | Suite101.com http://suite101.com/article/irans-death-sentence-for-nadarkhani-retaliation-for-sanctions-a403663#ixzz21RddS0rO

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