Two Death Sentences Issued in Gaza within One Week, PCHR Condemns and Calls for Adhering to the Protocol Aiming at Abolition of Death Penalty
On Sunday, 03 February 2019, The First Instance Court in Deir al-Balah issued a death sentence by hanging ‘A. F. (32), from al-Nussairat refugee camp after convicting him of killing Child (A. F.). ‘A. F. was previously sentenced by hanging on the same charges on 06 July 2010, but the Cassation Court abolished the sentence and referred the case to the First Instance Court for the retrial.
In the same context, on Tuesday, 29 January 2019, the First Instance Court in Khan Younis issued a death sentence against Y. ‘A (30) from Rafah City after being convicted of killing M. Sh.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the ongoing use of death penalty in the Gaza Strip and calls upon the authorities to respect Palestine’s international obligations as in June 2018 Palestine signed the instrument of accession to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights’ Second Optional Protocol, aiming at abolishing and banning execution of death penalty.
Since the beginning of 2019, 2 death sentences have been issued Thus, the total number of death sentences issued in the Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled areas has risen to 218 since 1994; 30 have been issued in the West Bank and 188 in the Gaza Strip. Among those issued in the Gaza Strip, 130 sentences have been issued since 2007.
PCHR confirms that any death sentence should not be executed without the Palestinian President’s ratification and the application of any death sentence without the ratification of the Palestinian President is considered an extra-judicial execution and those executing or issuing the sentence should be held accountable. PCHR also commends Palestinian President’s position not to ratify any death sentence since 2005, confirming ratification on death sentences shall be completely suspended in a prelude to abolish it from the Palestinian legislations.
Since the establishment of the PA, 41 death sentences were executed, 39 of which were in the Gaza Strip and two in the West Bank. Among the sentences executed in the Gaza Strip, 28 have been applied since 2007 without the ratification of the Palestinian President in violation of the law.
PCHR emphasizes that issuing death sentences requires presence of the necessary litigation guarantees, particularly right to defense and not being subject to torture, and interrogation techniques that leads to having objective evidence-based convictions. These requirements are not available in the Gaza Strip; thus, PCR calls upon the authorities to abstain from using death penalty.
PCHR also calls upon the Palestinian President to issue a law by decree to suspend the death penalty until an elected legislative authority assumes the legislative power and abolishes this penalty from the Palestinian legislations.