U.N. condemns Oklahoma execution as “degrading,” president orders analysis of execution policy
WASHINGTON – Three days after an Oklahoma man was put to death, the White House is addressing concerns regarding the country’s death penalty.
On Friday, President Obama addressed some of those concerns after the United Nations condemned Clayton Lockett’s execution.
The United Nations said his death could amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment according to international human rights law.
The U.N. called on authorities to impose an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty.
On Tuesday night, Clayton Lockett died of a heart attack nearly an hour after his execution began.
A problem caused Lockett to suffer, as he moved and talked for 45 minutes before the apparent heart attack.
“The apparent cruelty involved in these recent executions simply reinforces the argument that authorities across the United States should impose an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty and work for abolition of this cruel and inhuman practice,” OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville said.
In a news conference on Friday, President Obama spoke about the death penalty and what happened during Lockett’s execution.
He said, “What happened in Oklahoma is deeply troubling. The individual who was subject to the death penalty had committed heinous crimes, terrible crimes. And I’ve said in the past that there are certain circumstances in which a crime is so terrible that the application of the death penalty may be appropriate; mass killings, the killings of children. But I’ve also said that in the application of the death penalty in this country, we have seen significant problems.”
He said racial bias, uneven application of the death penalty in similar cases and innocent people ending up on death row are all issues with the country’s current death penalty program.
He added that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will lead an analysis of the death penalty and determine what changes need to be made.
President Obama added, “I think we do have to, as a society, ask ourselves some difficult and profound questions around these issues.”