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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

Dutch pharma firm reprimanded for drug used in U.S. executions

The Dutch branch of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reprimanded pharmaceutical company Mylan for doing to little to prevent their drugs being used in executions in the United States, the Volkskrant reports.

The OECD reprimanded Mylan at the insistence of death penalty lawyer Bart Staperd.

The pharmaceutical company now has to update its sales policy and make sure that their products are not used in executions. 

Mylan is originally an American company, but is established in the Netherlands for tax reasons. It therefore has to comply with Dutch human rights laws and provisions.

The drug involved is muscle relaxant rocuronium bromide. In the United States it is used as part of the cocktail given to death penalty prisoners at their execution.

Mylan initially defended itself by claiming that they do not always have control over the distribution of the drug. They sell rocuronium bromide wholesale to American hospitals, to be used for anesthesia in medical treatments. It is not directly supplied to prisons.

The OECD does not find that excuse acceptable, and instructed Mylan to better monitor the trade of the drug, even after they sold it. The company now promised to put more effort into monitoring where the drug ends up.

Source: nltimes.nl, April 12, 2016

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