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2020: Fourth Death Sentence in Gaza, PCHR Calls upon Palestinian President to Issue a Law by Decree to Stop Death Penalty

Ref: 56/2020

Date: 18 June 2020

Time: 11:15 GMT


On Tuesday, 16 June 2020, the Permanent Military Court in Gaza City issued a death sentence by hanging against N. M. A (64), from Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza Strip, after convicting him of collaborating with the Israeli occupation.

This is the 4th  sentence of its kind  and the 2nd issued by the military court in 2020. On 05 February 2020, the Khan Yunis First Instance Court issued a death sentence by hanging against A. T (39), from Rafah, after convicting him of the murder of (Y.B) with a firearm on 04 December 2017. In addition, on 25 February 2020,  the Military Court in Gaza City issued a death sentence by hanging against M. A. Z (34) after convicting him of collaborating with the Israeli occupation. On 21 May 2020, the Gaza First Instance Court issued a death sentence by hanging against E. D. A (39) , after convicting him of the murder of (Y. S).

Thereby, the total number of death sentences issued in the Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled areas has risen to 223 since 1994; 30 in the West Bank and 193 in the Gaza Strip. Among those issued in the Gaza Strip, 135 sentences were issued since 2007.

PCHR reiterates its rejection for the death penalty in the Gaza Strip, as it
constitutes a violation of the right to life and a form of cruel and inhuman
treatment, and it does not deter crimes. PCHR also contends that the application of the death penalty leads to disastrous consequences, as victims of the death penalty lose their lives. PCHR clarified that there are no fair trial guarantees in the Gaza Strip and necessary potentials to come up with convictions based on certainty, in addition to the systematic use of torture in the investigation, which may lead to implement this penalty against innocent people.

Furthermore, PCHR reiterates its rejection of prosecuting civilians before military courts, which is based on a law that overuses this penalty and restricts the accused person’s right to defense. Thus, PCHR calls upon authorities in Gaza 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.

PCHR confirms that any death sentence should not be executed without the Palestinian President’s ratification and the application of any death sentence without said presidential ratification 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; the Centre stresses that a complete moratorium should be applied on ratification of death sentences, as a prelude to its abolishment through the Palestinian legislature.

Since the establishment of the PA, 41 death sentences were executed, 39 in the Gaza Strip and 2 in the West Bank. Among the sentences applied in the Gaza Strip, 28 were excuted since 2007 without the ratification of the Palestinian President and in violation of the law.

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.