British government bans export of three more lethal injection drugs for US executions

April 14, 2011

Reprieve welcomes the announcement by the Department for Business that it is introducing controls on the export to the US of drugs used in lethal injections.

Business Minister Mark Prisk has written to Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve’s director, to confirm that the Government will put in place measures to stop the export to the US of three drugs for use in killing prisoners.

The move follows the Government’s recent decision to place an emergency export control on sodium thiopental – an anaesthetic which had been purchased by US prisons from the UK for use in lethal injections – following legal action by Reprieve.

The UK Government now intends to control exports to the US of:

    pancuronium bromide – a muscle relaxant and the second of a three-drug execution ‘cocktail’ used by many statespotassium chloride – the third part of the ‘cocktail’, used to stop the heartsodium pentobarbital – a barbiturate more commonly used to put down animals but seeing increasing use in US executions as supplies of sodium thiopental become scarce

Reprieve’s Director Clive Stafford Smith said:  ‘”Britain has now taken the lead in ending complicity in the US death penalty, which is very welcome.  Since the US executing states are now turning to a Danish company, Lundbeck, to kill people, we must hope that the UK can persuade our EU partners to take a similar line.”


Notes for Editors:

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives.  Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 27 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve has represented, and continues to represent, a large number of prisoners who have been rendered and abused around the world, and is conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’


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