Executions increasingly viewed as torture: U.N. investigator
By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Countries around the world are increasingly viewing capital punishment as a form of torture because it inflicts severe mental and physical pain on those sentenced to death, a U.N. torture investigator said on Tuesday.
Traditionally, countries have considered the legality of capital punishment with respect to the right to life guaranteed under international law, U.N. special rapporteur on torture Juan Mendez told the U.N. General Assembly's human rights committee.
"My analysis of regional and national jurisprudence identifies a momentum towards redefining the legality of capital punishment," Mendez said.
"States need to re-examine their procedures under international law because the ability of states to impose and carry out the death penalty is diminishing as these practices are increasingly viewed to constitute torture," he said.
He said that there was no such thing as a pain-free form of execution, which makes it difficult to reject the idea that it is a form of torture.
"Methods of execution cannot be discounted as being completely painless," he told reporters after addressing the General Assembly's Third Committee.
In his report to the 193-nation General Assembly, Mendez said that several U.N. expert panels have urged the United States to review its execution methods, including lethal injection, to prevent extreme pain and suffering.
"Following a number of executions in the United States, it has recently become apparent that the (lethal injection) regimen, as currently administered, does not work as efficiently as intended," Mendez's report said. Continued...