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11th Death Sentence in 2020: Escalated Use of Death Sentences in Gaza Strip, PCHR Calls for Respecting Palestine’s International Obligations and Abolishing the Death Penalty

Ref: 68/2020

Date:28 July 2020

Time: 11:22 GMT


On Sunday, 26 July 2020, the Gaza Court of First Instance issued a death sentence in absentia against A. ‘A. (35), a fugitive from justice, by firing squad, after he and his brother were convicted of killing M. GH. on 20 January 2008 in a family dispute.


Also on Monday, 27 July 2020, the Military Supreme Court affiliated with the Military Justice System in Gaza City (appeal court) confirmed the death sentence by firing squad against M. ‘A. (26), from al-Shati refugee camp who was convicted of premeditated murder of M. S. (34) on 09 November 2016, on grounds of a personal dispute.


While PCHR stresses the authorities’ duty to maintain security and protect citizen lives, global and Palestinian studies and experiments confirm that the death penalty is not an effective means to deter crime as its application did not stop killing crimes in the Gaza Strip, despite the excessive use of this punishment. Furthermore, its absence did not lead to an increase in the number of murder crimes in the West Bank, where this punishment has not been used for many years.


Hence, PCHR stresses its rejection of the use of the death penalty in the Gaza Strip and calls upon Gaza authorities to respect Palestine’s obligations on the international level as Palestine acceded to the 1989 Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), aiming at the abolition of the death penalty in June 2018.


This is the 11th sentence of its kind in 2020, including 8 new sentences and 3 confirmations for previous sentences. Thereby, the total number of death sentences issued by the Palestinian Authority since 1994 has risen to 227, 197 of which were in the Gaza Strip, and 30 were in the West Bank. Among those issued in the Gaza Strip, 139 were issued after Hamas Movement took over the Gaza Strip in 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 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.


PCHR reiterates its rejection for the death penalty in the occupied Palestinian territory, as it
constitutes a violation of the right to life and a form of cruel and inhuman
treatment, and it is not considered a crime deterrent. PCHR also contends that the application of the death penalty leads to disastrous consequences, as victims of the death penalty lose their lives. More so, there are no fair trial guarantees in the Gaza Strip, nor are the necessary potentials for evidence-based convictions, especially with the systematic use of torture in investigations, which may allow the application of the death penalty against innocent people.


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 executed 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 use of laws related to 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.