Poison shortage leaves Vietnam's new execution law unenforceable

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A shortage of lethal injection doses has prevented Vietnam from performing any executions since last July, during which time more than 100 death row prisoners had been scheduled to die.

Dang Van Hieu, deputy minister of Public Security made the statement during a National Assembly session on Monday (May 28) to discuss parliament's recent lawmaking activities.

Hieu said that the new Law for Enforcement of Criminal Verdicts has been unfeasible so far. The law, which took effect last July, replaced the firing squad with lethal injection for state executions, but has been unenforceable due to the shortage of poison.

Hieu said the public security ministry has constructed new facilities to execute inmates via lethal injection, but there have been difficulties importing the poison.

"More than 400 people have been sentenced to death, including more than 100 who have undergone relevant procedures to be executed and are awaiting execution but it (the poison) is unavailable," Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper quoted him as saying.

In an interview with Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Saigon) newspaper last month, Major General Ho Thanh Dinh, deputy director of the Criminal Verdicts Enforcement Department said there have been difficulties in managing the inmates whose executions have been postponed indefinitely.


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He said injection facilities have been built in Son La, Nghe An and Dak Lak provinces. Two more, in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, will be completed within the next two months.

The American state of Oklahoma, which executes more prisoners per capita than any other state, said this month it had only one remaining dose of European-made pentobarbital, a key drug used to kill condemned prisoners, Reuters reported Monday.

One reason the state had run so low in stocks was because of a ban on the sale of drugs for such purposes by the European Union, which opposes the death penalty, it added.

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