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States to try new ways of executing prisoners. Their latest idea? Opioids.

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The synthetic painkiller fentanyl has been the driving force behind the nation’s opioid epidemic, killing tens of thousands of Americans last year in overdoses. Now two states want to use the drug’s powerful properties for a new purpose: to execute prisoners on death row.
As Nevada and Nebraska push for the country’s first fentanyl-assisted executions, doctors and death penalty opponents are fighting those plans. They have warned that such an untested use of fentanyl could lead to painful, botched executions, comparing the use of it and other new drugs proposed for lethal injection to human experimentation.
States are increasingly pressed for ways to carry out the death penalty because of problems obtaining the drugs they long have used, primarily because pharmaceutical companies are refusing to supply their drugs for executions.
The situation has led states such as Florida, Ohio and Oklahoma to turn to novel drug combinations for executions. Mississippi legalized nitrogen gas this s…

Saudi Arabia: Surge in executions continues as death toll approaches 100

Public execution in Saudi Arabia
Public execution in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia will have put to death more than 100 people in the first 6 months of this year if it continues to carry out executions at its current pace, said Amnesty International today. At least 94 people have been executed so far this year, higher than at the same point last year.

At least 158 people were put to death in Saudi Arabia in 2015, the highest recorded figure in the country since 1995.

"Executions in Saudi Arabia have been surging dramatically for 2 years now and this appalling trend shows no sign of slowing," said James Lynch, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

"The steep increase in executions is even more appalling given the pervasive flaws in Saudi Arabia's justice system which mean that it is entirely routine for people to be sentenced to death after grossly unfair trials. The Saudi Arabian authorities should end their reliance on this cruel and inhuman form of punishment and establish an official moratorium on executions immediately."

The case of 21-year-old Ali al-Nimr who was sentenced to death based on "confessions" he says were extracted through torture, provides a glaring example of the arbitrary use of the death penalty after proceedings that blatantly flout international human rights standards.

Today marks 2 years since Ali al-Nimr, who was arrested after taking part in anti-government protests, was sentenced to death by a special security and counter-terrorism court for a series of offences such as attacking security forces and committing armed robbery. He was just 17 when he was arrested. International human rights law prohibits the use of the death penalty for crimes committed by persons under the age of 18.

"Ali al-Nimr has already spent 2 years on death row - instead of forcing him to spend a single day longer awaiting execution the Saudi Arabian authorities should quash his conviction and order a re-trial immediately in proceedings that meet international fair trial standards without recourse to the death penalty," said James Lynch.

Two other young men, Abdullah al-Zaher and Dawood al-Marhoon were sentenced to death a few months after Ali al-Nimr, on a list of similar offences, and also say they were tortured into "confessing".

Source: Amnesty International, May 27, 2016

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