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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…

Amnesty International against Sri Lanka on death penalty

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July 12, 2018 (LBO) – Sri Lanka must pull back from any plans to implement the death penalty and preserve its longstanding positive record on shunning this cruel and irreversible punishment, Amnesty International said.

The Sri Lankan President, Maithripala Srisena, is pressing ahead with plans to execute 19 death row prisoners convicted of drug-related offenses.

Capital punishment is a controversial issue, with many prominent organizations and individuals participating in the debate.

Amnesty International and other groups oppose capital punishment on moral grounds even though some law enforcement organizations and some victims’ rights groups support capital punishment.

The United States is one of the four developed countries that still practice capital punishment, along with Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan.

As of today, 142 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. In the Asia-Pacific region, 19 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes and a further seven are abolitionist in practice.

In 2017, as recorded by Amnesty International, executions were carried out in an isolated minority of countries (23), and only 11 of these – or 6 percent of the world’s total –carried out executions every year in the past five years.

The statement issued by the Amnesty International is reproduced below.

Sri Lanka: The death penalty is a cruel and irreversible punishment

Sri Lanka must pull back from any plans to implement the death penalty and preserve its longstanding positive record on shunning this cruel and irreversible punishment, Amnesty International said today.

The Sri Lankan President, Maithripala Srisena, is reportedly pressing ahead with plans to execute 19 death row prisoners convicted of drug-related offences.

“By resuming executions after more than 40 years, Sri Lanka will do immense damage to its reputation. The government must immediately halt plans to carry out any executions, commute all death sentences, and establish an official moratorium on the implementation of the death penalty as a first step towards its full abolition,” said Dinushika Dissanayake, Deputy Director for South Asia at Amnesty International.

“Sri Lanka has been a leader in the region, with an enviable record of shunning this cruel and irreversible punishment at a time when many other countries persisted with it. Now, when most of the world has turned its back on the death penalty, it risks heading in the wrong direction and joining a shrinking minority of states that persist with this horrific practice.”

Amnesty International is absolutely opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances, regardless of the crime or the method of execution.

Executing people for drug-related crimes is a violation of international law – which says the death penalty can only be imposed in countries that are yet to abolish it for the “most serious crimes”, meaning intentional killing– and would brazenly defy Sri Lanka’s international commitments, including its repeated votes in favour of a moratorium on the implementation of the death penalty at the UN General Assembly, including most recently in 2016.

Sri Lanka carried out its last execution in 1976.

“There is no evidence that the death penalty has a unique deterrent effect against crime. Executions are never the solution and, for drug-related offences, constitute a violation of international law. Sri Lanka should choose a more humane and just path,” said Dinushika Dissanayake.

Source: LBO, July 12, 2018


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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