Two Death Sentences Issued in Gaza in One Week, PCHR Concerned over Continuing Application of Death Penalty
On Monday, 20 December 2015, Deir al-Balah Court of First Instance issued a death sentence against J. F. A (26), from al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, after convicting him of kidnapping and killing M.Kh.A, from the same area.
On 15 December 2015, Gaza Permanent Military Court sentenced F. L. A. (50), from the north of the Gaza Strip, to death by hanging after convicting him of collaboration with hostile parties. It should be noted that the aforementioned person is a fugitive from justice, who is now present in Israel.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) is gravely concerned over increasingly applying such irreversible penalties in light of the absence of real guarantees to achieve justice, especially in view of bringing civilians before military courts in clear violation of the Palestinian Law especially Article (30) of the Basic Law. PCHR reiterates its call upon the Palestinian President to sign the 1989 Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.
According to PCHR’s documentation, with these 2 sentences, the number of death sentences issued this year has risen to 11 sentences , of which 2 have been issued in the West Bank and 9 in the Gaza Strip. Moreover, the total number of death sentences issued in the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) controlled areas has risen to 167 sentences since 1994, of which 29 have been issued in the West Bank and 138 in the Gaza Strip. Among those issued in the Gaza Strip, 80 sentences have been issued since 2007; i.e. since Hamas has taken over the Gaza Strip, while the PNA issued 32 death sentences since its establishment; of which 30 have been issued in the Gaza Strip and 2 in the West Bank. Among the sentences issued in the Gaza Strip, 19 were issued since 2007 without ratification of the Palestinian President in violation of the law.
It should be mentioned that the application of death sentences stopped after the formation of the National Unity government in June 2014. PCHR encourages this step and stresses that the application of death penalty should stop.
PCHR is gravely concerned over the continued application of the death penalty in PNA controlled areas, and:
- Calls upon the Attorney General to stop referring civilians before military courts and presenting them before their natural judge according to the law;
- Calls upon the Palestinian President to sign the 1989 Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolitionof the death penalty and issue a presidential decree to halt it until the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) convenes and abolishes it.
- Calls upon the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), if convened, to review all legislations related to the death penalty, especially the Penal Law No. 74 (1936) which remains in effect in the Gaza Strip, and the Jordanian Penal Code No. 16 (1960) that is in effect in the West Bank, and enacting a unified penal code that is in line with the spirit of international human rights instruments, especially those pertaining to the abolition of the death penalty;
- Points out that the call for abolition of the death penalty does not reflect a tolerance for those convicted of serious crimes, but rather a call for utilizing deterrent penalties that maintain our humanity; and
- Stresses that ratification of the implementation of death sentences is an absolute power of the Palestinian President according to the Palestinian Basic Law and relevant laws, and no death sentence can be implemented without such ratification.