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UK controls on lethal injection drug welcome, but repeats likely unless better controls introduced

Reacting to news today that the UK is to introduce export controls on Sodium Thiopental, a drug used in executions by lethal injection in the US, Amnesty International’s Programme Director on Arms Control Oliver Sprague said:

“Controlling the export of lethal injection drugs is the right thing to do, but it’s a shame that it’s taken a court case to get the government to do it.

“This is only going to happen again with other drugs or other items if the EU regulations aren’t changed at a deeper level.

“For these types of case, items should be controlled according to their likely end use, not just on whether or not they appear on a specific export control list. A licence should be required if there’s a clear risk that goods for export may be used in torture or executions.

“In December 2008, following Amnesty campaigning, the UK government said it would introduce a new end-use control on such equipment within the EU to close this loophole. Exports of goods that were not on the ‘controlled’ list, but still were being used to torture or execute people, could also be stopped.

“That commitment has not yet been honoured. If it had been, the government would have been able to control exports of Sodium Thiopental and all other similar drugs, as soon as it became known that they were being used in executions.”

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