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Death Sentence Issued in Gaza: PCHR Calls for Respecting Palestine’s International Obligations

Ref: 82/2019

On Tuesday, 09 July 2019, the First Instance Court issued a death sentence by hanging against J. M. (69), from Jabalia after convicting him with the murder of (A. A.) on 15 February 2018.

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 under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights’ Second Optional Protocol, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty (Acceded in June 2018).

Since the beginning of 2019, three death sentences were issued in Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled areas. Thus, the total number of death sentences issued since 1994 reached 219: 30 in the West Bank and 189 in the Gaza Strip. Of the Gaza Strip sentences, 131 were issued after 2007.

PCHR confirms that any death sentence should not be executed without the Palestinian President’s ratification; and that any executions carried out without said ratification are considered an extra-judicial execution and those executing or issuing the sentence should be held accountable. PCHR also commends the President’s decision not to ratify any death sentence since 2005, and calls for a moratorium on the death sentence, in a prelude to its abolition from Palestinian legislations.

Since the establishment of the PA, 41 death sentences were executed: 39 in the Gaza Strip, and two in the West Bank. Of those executed in the Gaza Strip, 28 were carried out after 2007 without the ratification of the Palestinian President in violation of the Palestinian 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, PCHR calls upon the authorities to abstain immediately from using the death penalty.

PCHR also calls upon the Palestinian President to issue a law by decree to suspend the death penalty in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, until an elected legislative authority assumes the legislative power and abolishes it from Palestinian legislations.