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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…

U.N. Rapporteurs Call on U.S. Government to Halt Doyle Hamm’s Execution

Doyle Hamm
Planned US execution of seriously ill Doyle Hamm may amount to torture, UN experts warn

Press Release: United Nations Human Rights Commissioner

GENEVA (16 February 2018) – Two UN human rights experts have called on the US Government to halt the execution of a seriously ill man amid concerns that the use of a lethal injection could amount to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, and possibly torture.

The Special Rapporteurs also expressed concern that Doyle Hamm, who is due be executed in Alabama on 22 February, may not have received a fair trial. Mr. Hamm was convicted of robbery and murder in 1987 and has been on death row for more than three decades.

The execution is due to go ahead even though Mr. Hamm has cancer and medical professionals have previously had difficulty accessing his veins.

“We are seriously concerned that attempts to insert needles into Mr. Hamm’s veins to carry out the lethal injection would inflict pain and suffering that may amount to torture,” said the experts.

“The planned method of execution, using Alabama’s three-drug protocol, may also have torturous effects, because the sedative used is incapable of keeping a convict unconscious in the presence of the excruciating pain likely to be induced by the other drugs.

“We urge the authorities to halt his execution, annul his death sentence, and hold a re-trial that complies with international standards, as we have received information indicating that his original trial did not fully respect the most stringent due process and fair trial guarantees.”

The experts said that imposing the death penalty in a manner that constitutes torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment would render the execution arbitrary in nature and thus be in violation of the fundamental right to life.

The experts have written to the US Government to express their concerns about the case.

Judges have ordered a fresh medical report to be delivered by 20 February, two days before the scheduled execution.

Source: blogs.law.columbia.edu, February 18, 2018


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