On Monday, 18 April 2016, for collaboration with hostile parties, Gaza Permanent Military Court issued 3 death sentences while the High Military Court upheld 2 others to be applied following the Palestinian President’s ratification.
According to PCHR’s follow-up, Gaza Permanent Military Court sentenced 3 civilians to death by hanging. The three civilians were identified as E. Q (52), from Rafah City; W. A. (41), from Gaza City; and M. D. (31), from the central Gaza Strip. Moreover, the High Military Court upheld 2 other death sentences; one of which by fire squad against N. A. (38), from Gaza City, who was a security service officer; and the other by hanging against A. Sh. (31), a civilian from Gaza City.
PCHR condemns the excessive and ongoing application of death penalty in the Gaza Strip. PCHR also calls upon the Palestinian President to issue a presidential decree to abolish this penalty in the Palestinian courts. PCHR also emphasizes that bringing civilians before military courts is a violation of both the constitution and the civilian’s right to appear before his natural judge according to Article (30) of the 2003 Palestinian Basic Law.
Thus, the number of death sentences in 2016 amounted to 10 as the military court in the Gaza Strip had issued 4 death sentences at once last January. Moreover, the Gaza Court of First Instance issued one on 12 April 2016 against M. K. (41) convicting him of murder.
The number of death sentences issued by the Palestinian Authority (PA) has risen to 176 sentences since 1994, of which 30 have been issued in the West Bank and 146 in the Gaza Strip. Among those issued in the Gaza Strip, 88 sentences have been issued since 2007. Since its establishment, the PA implemented 32 death sentences; 30 of which were in the Gaza Strip while two were in the West Bank. Among those implemented in the Gaza Strip, 19 have been implemented since 2007 without the ratification of the Palestinian President in violation of the law.
It should be mentioned that the application of death sentences in the PA stopped in 2005, but stopped in the Gaza Strip after the formation of the National Unity Government in June 2014. PCHR encourages this step although a number of extra-judicial exactions have been implemented in the Gaza Strip. PCHR has documented 64 cases since the split in 2007.
PCHR is gravely shocked by the excessive application of this irrevocable penalty and concerned over the ongoing application of death penalty in the PA. Therefore, PCHR:
- Calls upon the Attorney General in Gaza to stop bringing civilians before military courts and to present 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 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 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.