Human Rights Commissioner calls for national export ban on sodium thiopental

01.04.2011 - Press release

Following the execution of 46-year-old William Glenn Boyd last Thursday by lethal injection, Markus Löning, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, today (1 April) issued the following statement:

“I very much regret the fact that William Glenn Boyd has been executed.
This execution is moreover a step in the wrong direction. It bucks the world-wide trend towards the abolition of the death penalty, a trend that has been noted most recently by Amnesty International in its statistics published at the beginning of the week.
We must ensure that no substances from Germany or the EU are used in executions. The German Government is thus working with its partners in Brussels to introduce an EU export control on the relevant agents. Its efforts have sadly not yet borne fruit. I have therefore now asked the German Economics Minister to add sodium thiopental to the list of dual-use goods subject to approval prior to export.”

The list referred to is published as an Annex to the Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance on Approval Procedures for Dual-Use Goods, which is maintained by the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control. If the substance were added to it, each and every export of sodium thiopental would require official approval.

Execution by lethal injection is the method chosen by the majority of federal states that apply the death penalty in the USA. Thiopental is an anaesthetic that is usually included as one of three substances that make up the lethal cocktail. Thiopental is designed to cause an initial loss of consciousness, following which the other substances cause death. Since the end of 2010, American authorities have found it increasingly difficult to obtain thiopental. Hospira, the sole US manufacturer of sodium thiopental, recently stopped producing the substance.

Related content


Top of page