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Report No. 35

Topic Number 58(c)

Conclusion as to method of execution

1149. Conclusion as to method of execution.-

We find that there is a considerable body of opinion which would like hanging to be replaced by something more humane and more painless. Quite a number of replies, received to our questionnaire on the subject are in favour of substitution of electrocution1 for hanging, on the ground that the former is instantaneous and humane, while the latter is crude and cruel. The gas-chamber has been suggested in some other replies,2 while a few suggest lethal injection or enthanasia.3 On the other hand, some of the replies are in favour of the retention of hanging1, and a few belonging, to this group are of the view that the deterrent effect of the capital punishment could be achieved only by hanging.

1. See paras. 1102-1121, supra.

2. Paras. 1122-1124, supra.

3. Paras. 1125-1126, supra.

4. Paras 1132-1143, supra.

1150. The matter is, to a certain extent, one of medical opinion. That a method which is certain, humane, quick and decent should be adopted, is the general view, with which few can quarrel. It is true that the really agonizing part is the anticipation of impending death. But society owes it to itself that the agony at the exact point of execution is kept to the minimum. It is, however, difficult to express an opinion positively as to which of the three methods satisfied these tests most, particularly when the two other methods are still untried.

We are not, at present, in a position to come to a firm conclusion on this point. Progress in the science Of anaesthetics and further study of the various methods, as well as the experience gathered in other countries and development and refinement of the existing methods, would perhaps, in future, furnish a firm basis for conclusion on this controversial subject.

1151. We do not therefore recommend a change in the law on this point. We should, however, state here that we do not subscribe to the view that the substitution of any other method will reduce the deterrent effect of the penalty of death.

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