Thursday, January 04, 2007

Botched executions in the US lead to rethink...

Asked about the debacle of Saddam Hussain's execution, a senior US officer proudly stated that the Americans sure would have done it differently.

Of course they would.

The Americans are world experts, with experience of more than 1,000 executions by different methods since restoring the death penalty in 1976 (888 by lethal injection, 153 by electocution, 11 by gassing, three by hanging and two by firing squad).

Of those executed, 22 were juveniles when they committed their crimes.

An exclusive club of the USA, China, Iran and Saudi Arabia between them account for 94 per cent of the world's state executions.

Despite their expertise, the American state still manages to spectacularly botch executions. Lethal injections were sold as the most humane method some years ago after horrific stories of flesh frying when the electric chair was the favoured method. (Several states still have hanging or even firing squad on the statute).

Just before Christmas in Florida, where the Governor is no less than Jeb Bush, brother of President Dubya, a man took more than half an hour to die in apparent agony after his lethal injection was terribly botched.

Florida is now one of eight states across the US, where executions are now on hold as lawyers debate whether lethal injections can be "humane" or even constititional.

There's an update on capital punishment around the world in today's Independent after what it calls the "Utube execution" of Saddam :

If you want more, Campaigning British Attorney Clive Stafford Smith writes on the subject here

Those with an iron stomach may be interested in this history of botched executions in the USA

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