The United Nations Human Rights Council is pushing to stop Alabama from following through with America’s first nitrogen gas execution later in January.
Kenneth Eugene Smith is scheduled to be executed on January 25, but U.N. experts argue there has been no evidence to suggest that nitrogen gas would not “result in a painful and humiliating death.”
While the U.N. experts offered no evidence that nitrogen hypoxia would result in suffering, they argue that nitrogen gas executions may violate the U.N. Convention against Torture and other U.N. agreements to which the U.S. is a party.
The experts – Morris Tidball-Binz, Alice Jill Edwards, Tlaeng Mofokeng and Margaret Satterthwaite – went on to express their disappointment in the the U.S. for continuing the practice of capital punishment.
Alabama’s safety protocols for nitrogen executions acknowledge potential danger to those in the room administering the gas. As a result, spiritual advisers are not allowed in the room at the time unless they sign a waiver beforehand.
Rev. Jeffrey Hood, a spiritual adviser to death row inmates, filed a lawsuit arguing that requiring such a waiver violates a Supreme Court ruling protecting the right of an inmate to have a spiritual adviser present during his execution, according to CBS News.
Smith was convicted of the 1988 murder-for-hire of Elizabeth Sennett in Jefferson County, Alabama. He was convicted 11-1 by a jury, who recommended a sentence of life without parole. The sentencing judge overruled that, however, and sentenced him to death.
Alabama first attempted to execute Smith on November 17, 2022 via lethal injection. However, administrators in the room failed to find a suitable vein for the fatal drug despite four hours of trying.
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