Drugging to death
The ‘botched execution’ of Clayton Lockett, a US death row convict, in an Oklahoma prison after he was administered an unworkable and substandard combination of drugs, is a glaring example of American experiment with lethal injection and trying to present it as the ‘humane’ face of death penalty. Lockett, who was injected with a three-drug cocktail for execution, suffered enormously for the next 43 minutes and died of heart attack not caused by the administered drugs. USA, which is ranked fourth in an Amnesty International list of countries with maximum number of executions, not only has doggedly refused to abolish capital punishment unlike a number of European countries, but also has accepted lethal injection as the civilised form of state-sponsored judicial exterminations. This has severely backfired because several European pharmaceutical companies have now refused permission to the US to use their manufactured drugs for purposes of judicial executions, thereby causing a massive shortage of traditionally used drugs like barbiturate. In fact, conscientious Indian manufacturers of such drugs have also stopped supplying the American state governments with chemicals which could be used for administering lethal injections, as a last-ditch measure of registering opposition to death penalty. And if Lockett’s tortuous demise is anything to go by, Oklahoma state’s utterly disastrous experiment with cooking up a half-formed ‘drug of death’ has been demonstrably a misguided one. Even as abolitionists all over the world are working overtime to make governments see the cruelty and barbarity of continuing with capital punishment, states, who have buried their obstinate heads in sands of ignorance, are acting like merchants of deaths, arguing over the methods of this worldwide madness, trying to recover shreds of humanity in this inhuman act of collective murder. Executions are the most heinous forms of human actions, and much like drone assassinations, leave a lasting scar on not just the families and friends of executed inmates, but have a staggering politics of racial and class-based discrimination as far as pronouncements of death verdicts are concerned. Despite capital punishment being no deterrent to crime or criminal behaviour, that India still finds sanity in the noose and the US in lethal injection is a testament of the tragedy of our times.