In an effort to block Alabama’s plan to carry out the country’s first nitrogen gas execution, the UN Human Rights Council has stepped in. Kenneth Eugene Smith, an inmate, is set to be executed on January 25. Smith was found guilty of killing Elizabeth Sennett in 1988 in Jefferson County, Alabama, for hire.
Concerns over the use of nitrogen gas have been voiced by UN specialists Morris Tidball-Binz, Alice Jill Edwards, Tlaeng Mofokeng, and Margaret Satterthwaite, who claim there is no proof that the gas would not cause a painful and humiliating death. They argue that the United Nations Convention against Torture and other accords to which the United States is a party may be broken by such killings.
The safety procedures for nitrogen executions in Alabama recognize that the people giving the gas may be in danger. As such, spiritual counselors must execute a waiver before being let into the execution chamber. Rev. Jeffrey Hood, a spiritual counselor for death row convicts, filed a lawsuit in response to this policy, claiming that the waiver requirement breaches a Supreme Court decision that safeguards an inmate’s right to have a spiritual counselor present during execution.
Smith’s case has an intricate past. A jury that found him guilty 11-1 that he be given a life sentence without the possibility of release. The sentencing judge, however, disregarded this advice and gave Smith the death penalty. On November 17, 2022, Alabama made an attempt to execute Smith via lethal injection; however, the procedure failed since it was impossible to locate a suitable vein for the lethal substance.
The United States has long faced criticism from the UN for maintaining the death penalty. The involvement in Smith’s case brings to light the continuous discussion over the propriety and techniques of the death penalty in the United States as well as the reaction of the foreign community to these practices.