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Military Court in Ramallah Sentences Palestinian to Death by Firing Squad: PCHR Calls Upon President not to Ratify Sentence and Demands the Abolishment of Death Penalty from Palestinian Law

 Ref: 124/2009 

On Wednesday, 09 December 2009, the Military Court in Ramllah sentenced private ‘Izziddin Rassem Daghra, 41, from Kufor ‘Ein village north of Ramallah, to death by firing squad, after convicting him of collaboration with the enemy.


The Court, which was comprised of Lieutenant Colonel Ahmed Abu Dayah as chief judge, Lieutenant Colonel Khaled al-Qerna and Captain Khaled Hammouda as member judges, and Captain Nasser Ghanem, the Military Attorney-General, convicted Daghra of collaboration with the enemy.  The court based it ruling on Article 131(a) of the Palestinian Military Penal Law of 1979.  The sentence can be appealed in 15 days, and cannot be implemented without the ratification of Palestinian President Mahmoud ‘Abbas, in his capacity as High Commander of the Military Forces. 


The number of death sentences issued by Palestinian courts during 2009 now stands at 17 sentences, including 3 sentences issued in the West Bank and 14 in the Gaza Strip


The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) notes that the 1979 Palestinian Penal Law is the Revolutionary Penal Code of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).  It is unconstitutional within the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) as it has not been presented to, nor approved by, the legislature.  PCHR has repeatedly called for its abolition as it violates international fair trial standards.


PCHR is extremely concerned over the continued application of the death penalty in the PNA controlled areas, and therefore:


1)      Calls upon the PNA to announce an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty, which violates international human rights standards and instruments, especially the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the Additional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), and the UN Convention against Torture (1984).


2)      Calls upon Palestinian President Mahmoud ‘Abbas not to ratify these cruel and inhumane sentences, and to prevent their implementation.


3)      Reiterates that abolishing the death penalty does not imply leniency towards dangerous criminals, who must be subjected to punishment that acts as a deterrent but also maintains human dignity.


4)      Calls upon the PNA to stop applying the Revolutionary Penal Code of 1979 of the Palestine Liberation Organization as it is unconstitutional. 


5)      Calls upon the PNA to review all legislation relative to the death penalty – particularly Law No. 74 (1936) that remains in effect in the Gaza Strip, and the Jordanian Penal Code No. 16 (1960) that remains in effect in the West Bank – and to prepare a unified penal code that conforms to the spirit of international human rights instruments, especially those pertaining to the abolition of the death penalty.  


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