Ref: 68/2015

PCHR Concerned over Increasing Number of Death Sentences and Calls for Presidential Decree to Abolish it

On Sunday, 18 October 2015, the Military Court in Gaza issued two death sentences against two brothers identified as R. H. ‘A, a fugitive from Justice, and A. H. ‘A, who is detained in Gaza Central Prison.  Both of them are civilians from Khan Younis and were convicted of collaboration with the Israeli forces.

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.

Thus, the total number of death sentences issued by the PA since 1994 has risen to 164, of which 135 has been issued in the Gaza Strip and 29 in the West Bank. Among those issued in the Gaza Strip, 77 have been issued since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in 2007. The Palestinian Authority also executed 32 death sentences, of which 30 have been executed in the Gaza Strip and 2 in the West Bank. Among those executed in the Gaza Strip, 19 have been executed since 2007 without ratification by 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.  However, the application of death sentences in the Gaza Strip continued for 7 years without the ratification of the Palestinian President due to the division in the PA in 2007.  It is also noteworthy that death sentences are not executed in the West Bank, as the Palestinian President has not ratified any death sentence since the last one officially executed in July 2005.

PCHR is gravely concerned over the continued application of the death penalty in Palestinian Authority controlled areas, and:

 

1. Calls upon the Attorney General to stop referring civilians before military courts and presenting them before their natural judge according to the law;

2. 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.

3. 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;

4. 3. 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 

5. 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.