On Wednesday, 12 October 2011, the Permanent
Military Court in Gaza, which was comprised of Judge Ayman Imad Addin,
President, and Mr. Husaam Shehata and Sami al-Ashram, as members, sentenced
Bilal Saad al-Masri, 22, from Beit Lahia housing project, and Jihad Abdullah
al-Sab’, 23, from Sheikh Zayed housing town in the north of the Gaza Strip, to
death by hanging after convicting them for “terrorism” in accordance with the
Palestinian Revolutionary Penal Code of 1979. In the same case, the Court sentenced Saif Addin Mahmoud Abu Bakr, 21,
from Sheikh Zayed housing town, to hard labor for four years after convicting
him for conspiracy. All sentences were issued in the presence of the defendants
and can be appealed. The defendants were
convicted of blowing up an explosive near al-Waha Café in al-Remal
neighborhood, west of Gaza City, killing Rami Jamil Ashour, 27, and wounding
five other Palestinians.
The same Court sentenced, on 11 October 2011,
(R. A. B.), 36, from Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza, to death by hanging
after convicting him for treason, also in accordance with the Palestinian
Revolutionary Penal Code of 1979.
According to Palestinian Centre for Human
Rights’ (PCHR) documentation, 11 death sentences have been issued in the
occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) since the beginning of 2011, including two
death sentences in the West Bank and seven in the Gaza Strip. Thus, the total
number of death sentences issued by the Palestinian National Authority (PNA)
has mounted to 121 sentences since 1994, of which 25 have been issued in the
West Bank and 96 in the Gaza Strip. Among those issued in the Gaza Strip,
35 sentences were issued after 2007.
It should be noted that the 1979 Revolutionary
Penal Code of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is unconstitutional,
as it has never been presented to, nor approved by the legislature. Since
1995, PCHR has repeatedly called for its abolition as it violates international
standards of a fair trial.
PCHR is gravely concerned over the continued
application of the death penalty in PNA controlled areas, and:
1- Calls for an immediate moratorium on the use of the death
penalty as a form of punishment because it violates international human rights
standards and instruments, especially the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
(1948), 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
such a cruel and inhuman punishment.
3- Calls for an end to such implementation of the PLO Revolutionary
Penal Code of 1979 because it is unconstitutional.
4- Calls for reviewing all legislation related to the death
penalty, especially 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.
5- Points out that the call for the 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.