EU Restricts Sale of Lethal Injection Drugs to the US

The European Union announced on Wednesday that they were going to put new restrictions on all short and long acting anesthetics to country’s that have not abolished the death penalty.

The European Commission is strengthening export controls on Sodium Thipentol, and other drugs which are used as part of the lethal injection. The commission said to the Associated Press it wanted to “prevent their use for capital punishment, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

This had been a policy prerogative of death penalty abolitionists for a very long time. Currently no state in the European Union executes prisoners.

Many US states have already announced the delay of some executions from a shortage of Sodium Thiopental that has been going on for years. Other states have had to switch to other barbiturates in order to compensate. It is unclear if the new restrictions would have much, if any effect on US executions.

The EU restrictions are the latest in a long string of international restrictions aimed at the US Lethal Injection process. In April, Great Britain announced that it would not sell any of the three drugs used to execute prisoners anymore to the US. Indian Pharmaceutical companies have also followed suit. The Danish manufacturer of Phenobarbital (one of the replacement drugs being used by Texas, Georgia and Oklahoma) said it would no longer sell the drugs to anyone who would not sign a waiver that the drug would not be used in executions.

If the EU restrictions do have an effect on supply and force death penalty states to find new drugs, they open up all executions to new legal challenges on 8th amendment grounds. The 8th amendment prevents the use of cruel and unusual punishment.

Should the European Union restrict the sale of drugs used in lethal injections?”

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