UN Gets Involved In Alabama Execution
The United Nations Human Rights Council is making a strong push to halt the scheduled execution of Kenneth Eugene Smith, set to take place on January 25 in Alabama.
Smith would be the first person in America to be executed by means of nitrogen gas. The U.N. experts argue that this method of execution may result in a "painful and humiliating death," but provide no evidence to support this claim.
The U.N. experts, Morris Tidball-Binz, Alice Jill Edwards, Tlaeng Mofokeng, and Margaret Satterthwaite, argue that the use of nitrogen gas may violate the U.N. Convention against Torture and other agreements to which the U.S. is a party. They also express disappointment in the U.S. for continuing the practice of capital punishment.
The safety protocols for nitrogen executions in Alabama acknowledge that there may be a potential danger to those in the room administering the gas. As a result, spiritual advisors are not allowed to be present unless they sign a waiver beforehand.
This has led to a legal battle, as Rev. Jeffrey Hood, a spiritual adviser to death row inmates, filed a lawsuit claiming that this requirement violates a Supreme Court ruling protecting an inmate's right to have a spiritual adviser present during an execution.
Smith was convicted of the 1988 murder-for-hire of Elizabeth Sennett in Jefferson County, Alabama. Despite a jury recommendation of life without parole, the sentencing judge overruled this and sentenced Smith to death. This decision has been met with criticism and has been the subject of appeals.
This is not the first time Alabama has attempted to execute Smith. On November 17, 2022, a lethal injection was scheduled, but after four hours of trying, administrators in the room failed to find a suitable vein for the fatal drug. This resulted in the postponement of the execution and the decision to use nitrogen gas instead.
The use of nitrogen gas as a method of execution has been a controversial topic, with critics arguing that it is untested and lacks a track record of success. Proponents argue that it is a more humane and painless option, as nitrogen gas is quickly inhaled and causes death by depriving the body of oxygen.
Overall, the case of Kenneth Eugene Smith has sparked a larger conversation about the use of capital punishment and the methods of execution in the United States. The involvement of the U.N. Human Rights Council adds another layer to this debate and may ultimately impact the outcome of the scheduled execution.
As the date draws closer, it is uncertain how this situation will unfold, but it is clear that the use of nitrogen gas in executions remains a highly controversial and contentious issue.