Ref: 176/2007

Date: 26 December  2007

Time: 10:30 GMT


PCHR Welcome UN General Assembly Resolution against the Death Penalty

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) welcomes the decision of the United Nations General Assembly on 18 December 2007 to adopt a resolution calling for an international moratorium on the use of the death penalty as a prelude to abolishing the death penalty worldwide. PCHR views this decision as a culmination of sustained international efforts, led by human rights organizations and civil society aiming to abolish the death penalty at executive and legislative levels.

The UN adopted the resolution after a vote of 104 in favor to 54 against, with 29 abstentions. The vote itself was preceded by intense debate. However, the resolution was expected to be adopted in light of a November 15th 2007 recommendation by the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committees.

It is regrettable that only one Arab country, Algeria, supported the resolution. All other Arab countries opposed the resolution, abstained from voting, or were absent from the session. This is a clear indicator of the difficulties facing organizations working for the abolition of the death penalty in the Arab world.

The resolution stated that the implementation of the death penalty undermines human dignity; and that states who support this moratorium are fully convinced it will contribute to the gradual development and promotion of international human rights. The resolution also stated that there is no clear evidence the death penalty acts as a deterrent against crime. In addition, the resolution stated that any judicial or procedural mistake in imposing and implementing the death penalty is totally irrevocable.

PCHR views this resolution as a very important and positive step forward in the international effort to abolish the death penalty. The Centre commends all efforts that contributed towards this resolution, including the efforts of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty.

PCHR is a member of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty. In addition, the Centre is one of the most high profile Palestinian organizations working to abolish the death penalty. The Centre’s work to abolish the death penalty is not restricted to Palestinian legislation, but also includes work against extra-judicial executions perpetrated by the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) against Palestinian civilians. Despite the claim of the Government of Israel that it does not impose the death penalty, Israel continues to perpetrate extra-judicial executions against Palestinian civilians. Since December 2000, seven hundred and fifteen Palestinians have been killed in extra-judicial executions perpetrated by the Israeli Occupying Forces. 485 of these victims were specifically targeted by the IOF, whilst the remaining 230 were killed in the process. These extra-judicial executions are also a form of death penalty that is implemented without any trial or legal procedures.