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Sixth Death Sentence in Gaza in 2020, PCHR Calls upon Palestinian President to Issue a Law by Decree to End Death Penalty

Ref: 65/2020

Date: 13 July 2020

Time: 12:14 GMT


On Sunday, 12 July 2020, the Court of First Instance of Deir al-Balah issued a death sentence by hanging against the brothers (‘A. H. Q.) (42), and (M. H. Q.) (34), after convicting them of killing (‘A. Kh.) on 11 November 2017.

This is the 6th sentence of its kind in 2020. On 05 February 2020, the Khan Younis 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. Additionally, 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.). Furthermore, on 16 June 2020, the Permanent Military Court in Gaza issued a death sentence by hanging against (N. M. ‘A.) (64), after convicting him of collaborating with the Israeli occupation.

Thereby, the total number of death sentences issued in the Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled areas has risen to 225 since 1994; 195 in the Gaza Strip and 193 in the West Bank. Among those issued in the Gaza Strip, 137 sentences were issued since 2007 i.e. the political division between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

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 is a form of torture and the most extreme stage of inhuman treatment that 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 as it lacks the necessary potentials and expertise to convict defendants with certainty;  in addition to the systemic use of torture in investigations, which allows for the possibility of executing this harsh penalty against innocent persons.

PCHR calls upon the authorities to respect Palestine’s international obligations under the 1989 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights’ Second Optional Protocol (acceded in June 2018), aiming at the abolition of the death penalty and ban its application.

PCHR also 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 extra-judicial and those executing or issuing the sentence should be held legally 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 (2) in the West Bank. Of those executed in the Gaza Strip, (28) were carried out without the ratification of the Palestinian President in violation of the Palestinian 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.