Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and the Death Penalty 
Overview

The right to life is the most basic and fundamental of all human rights.  It is the foundation upon which all other rights are built upon.  It is inalienable and yet, all too often, violated.  When a State exercises judicial discretion to violate the right to life this process is known as the death penalty.  Although the PNA is not a fully functioning state (owing to the ongoing belligerent Israeli occupation, now in its 39th year) it does maintain some of the trappings of statehood – one of which has been demonstrated by its limited use of lethal force. 

On 12 June 2005, the PNA, following death penalty orders being signed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, executed four Palestinian prisoners who had been convicted of murder and other crimes between 1995 and 2000.  These executions were the first since 2000 after former President Arafat had agreed to a moratorium on the death penalty.  According to PCHR's documentation, the PNA has carried out nine death sentences since its establishment in 1994 and a further nine prisoners have been killed in other circumstances.  Palestinian courts have handed down 73 death sentences since 1994

PCHR is concerned that more Palestinians who are on death row may be subjected to the death penalty. PCHR believes that such a response is an inadequate one to the disintegration of law and order within the areas under the control of the PNA (for more information on required measures to introduce law and order see PCHR’s Position Paper on the 2004 crises in the PNA).  PCHR is also concerned because many of those currently on death row have been convicted using the State Security Courts – a secret court system in operation by the PNA.  Others again, such as collaborators with the Israeli military, may be executed for populist political motives. 

Execution of the law rather then of people is the primary deterrent against committing a crime.  In simple terms this means that if an individual believes that they can commit a crime with impunity then they will be more likely do this.  If on the other hand an effective system of law enforcement exists which would significantly increase the chances of getting caught then individuals are less likely to commit crimes.

This is borne out by the fact that countries with the death penalty often suffer higher rates of crime and that no evidence has, to date, been produced which proves that removing or imposing the death penalty has any effect on levels of disorder/criminal activity.

PCHR condemns the death penalty, irrelevant of the justification provided for imposing it, and holds that the right to life is sacrosanct.

 

PCHR documents

PCHR Press Release: Permanent Military Court in Gaza Issues Death Sentence: PCHR Urges President Abbas not to Ratify the Sentence and to Abolish Death Penalty 01 November 2009

PCHR Press Release: Military Court in Gaza Issues Death Sentence; PCHR Urges President not to Ratify Sentence   08 October 2009

PCHR Press Release: PCHR and OHCHR Organize Conference in Gaza on Death Penalty  07 October 2009

PCHR Press Release: Military Court in Hebron Sentences Civilian to Death, PCHR Urges President not to Ratify Sentence  29 April 2009

PCHR Press Release: Military Court in Gaza Sentences 4 Palestinians to death PCHR Calls upon Palestinian President not to Ratify the Four Sentences 08 April 2009

PCHR Press Release:Military Court in Gaza Sentences 3 Palestinians to Death  11 March  2009

PCHR Press Release:  The Military Court in Gaza Sentences a Palestinian to Death; PCHR Calls upon President Mahmoud Abbas Not to Ratify the Sentence and Demands the Abolishment of Death Penalty from Palestinian Law  17 December 2008

PCHR Press Release: Military Court in Gaza Sentences a Man to Death 22 July 2008

PCHR Press Release:  As Palestinian Military Court Sentences 2 People to Death, PCHR Calls upon President Abbas to reject Ruling, and for Abolition of Death Penalty in OPT 16 July 2008

PCHR News: PCHR Organizes another Meeting on the Death Penalty in the PNA Controlled Areas 05 May  2008

PCHR Press Release:  Palestinian Military Court Sentences Emad Sa’ed to Death, PCHR Calls upon President Abbas to reject the Ruling, and Calls for Abolishing the Death Penalty in Palestinian Law 28 April  2008

PCHR Press Release: High Military Court Sentences a Man to Death, PCHR Calls upon Palestinian President Not to Ratify the Sentence and Demands the Abolishment of Death Penalty from Palestinian Law  07 April  2008

PCHR News: PCHR Organizes 2 Meetings on Death Penalty under the PNA 19 February  2008

PCHR Press Release: PCHR Welcome UN General Assembly Resolution against the Death Penalty   26 December 2007

PCHR News: PCHR Organizes a Colloquia on the Death Penalty under the PNA  03 September 2007

PCHR Press Release: PCHR Joins the World Coalition against the Death Penalty  18 March  2007

PCHR Position Paper:  Execution for Alleged Collaboration (pdf)   12 December 2006

PCHR Position Paper:  Death Penalty under the Palestinian National Authority  (pdf) 14 September 2006

PCHR Press Release: On the World Day Against the Death Penalty, PCHR  Calls for Making Efforts to Abolish the Death Penalty in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (10-October 2006)

PCHR Press Release: Death Penalty Must Stop (28 July 2005)

PCHR Press Release: PNA Carries out Four Death Sentences (12 June 2005)

PCHR Position Paper: Crises in the PNA: Events and the Challenge of Reform. (August 2004)

Amnesty International Press Release: URGENT ACTION: Fear of imminent execution (29 July 2005)

Amnesty International Press Release: Amnesty International calls for halt to death penalty as four executed in Gaza (13 June 2005)

 

Human Rights Watch

The Council of Europe on the Death Penalty: Death is not Justice (including excellent FAQs)