EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 51/29/94
28 April 1994
Further information on EXTRA 23/94 (AMR 51/23/94, 13 April 1994) -
Reinstatement of death penalty in Kansas
On 23 April 1994, Governor Finney allowed a bill reinstating the death penalty
in Kansas to become law. Governor Finney, who personally opposes the death
penalty, could have vetoed the bill, but decided to take no action. She allowed
the bill to pass without her signature as she believes it is the will of the
people of Kansas. However, an opinion poll on public attitude to the death
penalty carried out in Kansas from 16 to 19 April 1994, and presented to Governor
Finney last week, found that 66% of those interviewed preferred life without
parole plus restitution to the victims' families as an alternative to the death
The new law provides the death penalty as a possible sentence for persons over
the age of 18 for seven specific types of intentional premeditated murder,
including the killing of a rape victim or a police officer. It establishes
lethal injection as the method of execution in the state and provides for a
panel of three health professionals to advise the Secretary of Corrections
in carrying out executions.
The involvement of doctors in executions is contrary to ethical guidelines
issued by the American Medical Association (AMA) and the World Medical
Association (WMA), both of which provide that physicians should not participate
in executions other than to determine or certify the death of the prisoner.
In December 1992, the AMA's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs developed
a clear definition of physician participation in executions and adopted a series
of guidelines. Among those actions deemed to constitute physician involvement
in an execution is the "rendering of technical advice regarding executions".
The law will come into effect on 1 July 1994. There have been no executions
in Kansas since 1965.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty as a violation of the right
to life and the right not to be subject to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
or punishment as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The organization is further concerned that physicians are being asked to advise
the Secretary of Corrections on execution methods in violation of the AMA policy,
and effectively to contribute to the execution process in Kansas.
FURTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send faxes/express and airmail letters in
English, or call by telephone:
- expressing deep regret that Governor Finney allowed the death penalty to
be reinstated in Kansas;
- expressing concern that physicians are being asked to advise the Secretary
of Corrections on execution methods and effectively to contribute to the
execution process in Kansas; citing the AMA's and the WMA's resolutions relating
to physicians' participation in executions.
The Honorable Joan Finney