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New Death Sentence Issued in Gaza: PCHR Calls for Respecting Palestine’s International Obligations and Abolishing the Death Penalty

Ref: 76/2020

Date: 18 August 2020

Time: 11:37 GMT


On Tuesday, 18 August 2020, the First Instance Court in Khan Yunis issued a death sentence by hanging against S. H. (31), from Rafah after convicting him with the murder of (M. H.) on 18 August 2018 in a family dispute in al-Shaboura refugee camp in Rafah.


This is the 14th sentence of its kind issued in 2020, including (9) new sentences. Thereby, the total number of death sentences issued since 1994 reached 228; 30 in the West Bank and 198 in the Gaza Strip, of which 140 were issued after 2007, and none were issued in the West Bank since 2015.


While the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) stresses the authorities’ duty to maintain security and protect citizens’ 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.


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 of 1989, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty (Acceded in June 2018).


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 Palestinian law.


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 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.


PCHR emphasizes its absolute rejection of the death sentence because It is an unjustified and abhorrent violation of the right to life, and it is not considered a crime-deterrent. Furthermore, the Gaza Strip lacks the capacity and expertise necessary for certain convictions in such critical cases, not to mention the use of torture in investigations which opens the door for possible execution of this cruel penalty on innocent persons.


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 legislative power and abolishes it from Palestinian legislations.