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Editorial: In a civilized society, not even the most vicious crimes justify a death sentence

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It is soul-bruising to contemplate the torture that 10-year-old Anthony Avalos endured in his Lancaster home for more than a week before dying last year. Whippings with a looped cord and belt. Repeatedly held upside down then dropped on his head. Getting slammed into pieces of furniture and against the floor. Hot sauce poured on his face and mouth.
The road map of the abuse stretched from head to toe on his small malnourished body — bruises, abrasions, scabs and cuts visible on the outside. Traumatic brain injury and soft tissue damage on the inside. All allegedly perpetrated by his mother, Heather Barron, and her boyfriend, Kareem Leiva.
RELATED | California: Prosecutors seeking death penalty in Anthony Avalos torture case
If ever a set of circumstances called for the death penalty, this would be it. Few were surprised when Los Angeles County prosecutors said Wednesday that if the couple is convicted of the torture-murder, the jury will be asked to recommend a death sentence.
Such ca…

Vietnam: Lethal injection switch stalls over lack of drugs

Though approved by the National Assembly in 2009, execution by lethal injection under the Law on Criminal Verdict Execution has been delayed two times and has still not been carried out because concerned agencies have been unable to import the drugs needed for the injections.

The isue was raised and discussed at an NA meeting held on October 26 to review the country’s performance in fighting crime.

National Assembly Deputy Chairman Huynh Ngoc Son said the police department has built 10 execution centers by lethal injection, but the new execution method has yet to be implemented due to a failure to import the necessary materials.

“The drugs for a lethal injection must be imported through the EU, but the organization is demanding that Vietnam abolish the death penalty,” Son said.

According to a report from several law agencies, nearly 450 defendants have yet to be executed by the new method due to the lack of material. Meanwhile, some prisoners under the death penalty have petitioned to have their sentences executed soon, while others have died because of illness while waiting for their execution. This delay under the new method means a larger burden has been placed on prisons.

The Health Ministry and concerned agencies are trying to import the injections but nobody knows for sure when exactly they will be available for use, while the delay in executions due to the absence cannot be prolonged anymore.

“I have proposed that if the new execution method cannot be carried out, then the law be amended so that execution by firing squad can be applied again, but the Government has not agreed to this,” Son said.

Phan Trung Ly, chairman of the NA’s Law Committee, said the ministries of Defense and Public Security have built many execution centers and equipped them with advanced equipment, and hundreds of officers have been trained in execution by lethal injection.

“However, the new execution method has not been implemented because concerned agencies cannot import the drugs needed for the injection, since nobody sells them,” Ly said.

The Ministry of Public Security said that the Health Ministry is responsible for importing the lethal injections, while the latter claims the former is responsible.

Ly said governmental agencies have failed in their duty to implement the law. “Why do we have to delay importing lethal injections? Is Vietnam unable to produce such injections?” Ly said.

He also suggested that firing squads be used again to execute prisoners.

Dr. Dinh Xuan Thao, head of the Legislative Research Institute, also said that the law should be amended so that both firing squads and the lethal injection can be chosen to use in execution.

In the long run, legislators should minimize the number of criminal charges subject to a sentence. The death penalty should be applied for particularly serious crimes only, Thao said.

As previously reported, the switch was scheduled for July 1, 2011 after the Law on Execution of Criminal Verdicts was passed by the National Assembly in 2010 and lawmakers looked for a "more humane" method of execution.

But the switch was delayed until November, and then December 2011, and it has still not been applied.

According to the new execution method, three drugs will be used - sodium thiopental to anesthetize the condemned, pancuronium bromide to paralyze the nervous system and muscles, and potassium chloride to stop the heart. These drugs can be injected two to three times if they do not work the first time.

Source: tuoitrenews, October 29, 2012

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