Are vets more humane than doctors?

First do no harm. Thats the ethical code that doctors sign up to, so an execution chamber is a strange place to find them.


As Amnesty shows in a new report out today, doctors, anaesthetists and other medical personnel have been using their medical expertise to kill condemned prisoners with lethal injections. Weve called on them to stop.

So, its good to see that our report gets some coverage this morning. The timing is spot-on. Lethal injections have become extremely controversial: several recent executions - in Texas, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky - have been put on hold to allow time for the US Supreme Court to look at whether they amount to torture.

A quick, painless injection equalling torture? Surely not. Well, imagine being strapped down to the execution trolley, having the first drug injected into you to knock you out only to wake up, paralysed and in agonising pain.

Its like a bad horror film. But this is what experts believe has been going on in some botched executions in the States. Dying men spending their last moments on earth trapped inside a "chemical straitjacket", in pain but paralysed and unable to move or cry out.

Texas has executed over 400 people with lethal injections in the last 25 years, but its banned vets from putting down cats and dogs with the same combination of drugs because of fears that the animals might suffer. Jeez.

So were getting a creeping moratorium in the USA, with successive states downing execution tools. Its good, but slow. Add your name to a call for something a bit faster - for the UN to vote for a total halt to all global executions this autumn.

Meanwhile, the papers are awash with either Diana inquest stuff or the look no autocue Cameron speech from Blackpool. Staying with the latter, its worrying that the would-be PM is still throwing out that little grenade about abolishing the Human Rights Act. Yeah! Human rights, get rid of them.

Over in America yesterday Britains most senior judge, Lord Phillips was saying that terrorism is defeated not by ripping up human rights laws, but by standing behind them. I think hes right. (Get a glimpse of our new take on this at

So, back to Cameron. Hes wrong about the Human Rights Act but at least hes a fan of Facebook. Yesterday he was plugging a fan-site called Cameron is a hottie. Hey, its a matter of taste! But he didnt say much about competitor sites like Stop David Cameron ... his lies make baby Jesus cry . Well, cant blame him.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
View latest posts