Unprecedented Decision: Woman Sentenced to Death Penalty in Khan Younis; PCHR Reiterates Rejection of Death Penalty and Calls for its abolishment
On Wednesday, 05 October 2016, Khan Younis First Instance Court issued a death sentence against a woman, setting a precedent in the history of the Palestinian Judiciary. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) reiterates its position rejecting the death penalty and condemns the excessive application of this punishment by Gaza judiciary in light of fragile interrogation techniques.
According to PCHR’s follow-up, the First Instance Court in Khan Younis sentenced a woman (N. ‘A.) (26), from ‘Abasan village, east of Khan Younis, to death by hanging, after being convicted of premeditated murder of her husband (R. ‘A.) (36).
In 2016, the number of death sentences issued has so far risen to 15 sentences, 12 of which were issued by Military Courts, while the rest 3 were issued by a Civil Court. Four of those sentences were issued by the High Military Court, upholding previous sentences. It should be mentioned that the 15 sentences were issued in the Gaza Strip.
The total number of death sentences issued in the Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled areas has risen to 179 sentences since 1994, 30 of which have been issued in the West Bank and 149 in the Gaza Strip. Among those issued in the Gaza Strip, 91 sentences have been issued since 2007.
Since the establishment of the PA, 35 death sentences were applied; 33 of which were in the Gaza Strip and two in the West Bank. Among the sentences applied in the Gaza Strip, 22 were applied since 2007 without the ratification of the Palestinian President in violation of the law, and 3 of which were implemented on 31 May 2016. Those three were the first death sentences to be implemented without the Palestinian presidential ratification following the formation of the National Unity Government in June 2014. PCHR emphasized that it is extra-judicial execution and constitutes a flagrant violation of the Palestinian Basic Law (PBL) since it requires the ratification of the Palestinian President for implementation.
PCHR follows up with deep concern the excessive application of this serious and irreversible punishment. PCHR is also gravely concerned over the continued application of death penalty in the PA controlled areas, and:
- Calls 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 and issue a presidential decree to halt it until the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) convenes and abolishes it;
- Calls upon the 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 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 PBL and relevant laws, and no death sentence can be implemented without such ratification.