Vietnam still stuck in lethal injection quagmire

TN News

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Vietnam is considering reinstituting the firing squad once again, as executions via lethal injection have been continually postponed for more than two years, with hundreds of death-row inmates waiting for the state to end their lives.

In a recent proposal to the law-making National Assembly, the Ministry of Public Security has sought permission to apply both the methods of execution, Dan Tri online newspaper quoted Nguyen Viet Hung, spokesman of the Supreme People's Procuracy, Vietnam's highest prosecutors' office, as saying on Tuesday.

The proposal came after the ministry failed to start executing inmates with lethal injections on June 27, as had been previously called for by a government decree.

Hung said the biggest problem that they are now facing in carrying out death sentences with the new method concerns the drugs involved, according to the newspaper.

At a legislature meeting in October last year, many lawmakers also said that the firing squad should be restored, as the lethal injection method has been delayed since November 2011 when it was originally slated to take effect.

The delay began when the EU, which has banned capital punishment, stopped selling the lethal drug cocktail Vietnamese law mandated must be used for executions.

Later the government ordered the lethal drugs be produced locally and that those condemned to death be given such injections starting on June 27.

However, on June 26, Cao Ngoc Oanh, director of the central police department in charge of managing prisons nationwide, told the media that they were "not ready" to carry out executions with lethal injections.

According to Nguyen Xuan Truong, a Ministry of Health spokesman, the Drug Administration of Vietnam was appointed to manufacture lethal injection cocktails. However, he refused to provide further details, saying the matter was "classified."

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In the meantime, local media have recently reported that the indefinite delays in execution have put many death-row inmates under undo stress; some of them have committed suicide.

Nearly 700 inmates on the country's death row await execution, An Ninh Thu Do newspaper quoted the latest official figures as saying.

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