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Tennessee execution: Billy Ray Irick tortured to death, expert says in new filing

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Editor's note: Reporter Dave Boucher was one of seven state-required media witnesses at Irick's execution. 
Billy Ray Irick felt searing pain akin to torture before he died in a Tennessee prison in August, but steps taken in carrying out his execution blocked signs of suffering, according to a doctor who reviewed information about the lethal injection.
In new court filings entered late Thursday amidst an ongoing legal challenge of Tennessee’s lethal injection protocol, Dr. David Lubarsky said statements from people who witnessed the execution indicated the controversial drug midazolam failed to ensure Irick could not feel pain during his death.
As a result, the death row inmate “experienced the feeling of choking, drowning in his own fluids, suffocating, being buried alive, and the burning sensation caused by the injection of the potassium chloride,” Lubarsky wrote in the filing.
The document also says the state did not follow its own lethal injection protocol, raising questio…

Indonesia’s Death Penalty Debacle Exposed

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The official Ombudsman of Indonesia has accused both the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) and the Supreme Court of “maladministration” in denying a Nigerian citizen, executed for drug trafficking in July 2016, his legal rights.

Ombudsman official Ninik Rahayu outlined a checklist of procedural failures that could have prevented Humphrey Jefferson’s execution, including the Supreme Court’s refusal to conduct a second review of his case, and the AGO’s decision to proceed with the execution despite the fact that Jefferson had filed a clemency request with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

The denial of due process to Jefferson raises troubling questions about Jokowi’s signature policy of executing convicted drug traffickers. Indonesia ended a four-year unofficial moratorium on the death penalty in March 2013, and Jokowi has made the execution of convicted drug traffickers a prominent issue of his presidency. Jokowi has sought to justify the use of the death penalty on the basis that drug traffickers had “destroyed the future of the nation,” despite international human rights obligations under which drug-related offenses are deemed as falling outside the scope of “most serious crimes,” for which the death penalty can legitimately be retained. In December 2014, he told students that the death penalty for convicted drug traffickers was an “important shock therapy” for anyone who violates Indonesia’s drug laws. Since Jokowi took office in 2014, his government has executed 18 convicted drug traffickers in 2015 and 2016 – the majority citizens of other countries. Jokowi has routinely rejected their government’s calls for clemency, citing national sovereignty.

Even worse, on July 21 of this year, Jokowi indicated the police could skip due process entirely and summarily execute any foreign drug dealers who resist arrest. “Gun them down. Give no mercy,” Jokowi urged police in a speech. National Police Chief General Tito Karnavian and Comr. Gen. Budi Waseso, the head of the National Narcotics Agency, have echoed similarly unlawful approaches to drug crimes modeled on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s unlawful and abusive “war on drugs.”

Jokowi and senior police officials should recognize that the cruel and unusual punishment of the death penalty and the barbarity of extrajudicial killings have no place in a rights-respecting country. Instead, Indonesia should restore the unofficial moratorium on the death penalty and ensure the rights of criminal suspects, including those implicated in drug crimes, are respected rather than steamrolled.

Source: Human Rights Watch, Andreas Harson, July 31, 2017

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