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Justice is Indivisible: Extra-judicially Applying Death Sentences Will Not Lead to Justice and Security

Ref: 27/2017

The Ministry of Interior in the Gaza Strip applied 3 death sentences without the ratification of the Palestinian President in a clear violation of the 2003 Palestinian Basic Law (PBL) and other relevant laws.  The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns extra-judicially applying death sentences and emphasizes that fighting treason and achieving security will not occur by violating the law.

According to PCHR’s follow-up, on Thursday morning, 06 April 2017, The Ministry of Interior executed by hanging 3 civilians namely (‘A. M.) (55), (W. A.) (42) and (A. Sh.) (32) after being convicted of collaborating with Israel.

The total number of death sentences applied in the PA controlled areas has risen to 38 sentences; 36 of which were in the Gaza Strip.  Among those, 25 sentences have been applied without the ratification of the Palestinian President since 2007 while 6 were applied after the formation of the national unity government.

On Wednesday, 05 April 2017, the Attorney General said in a statement that, ” According to the Palestinian Basic Law and to achieve general deterrence, death sentences will be applied against persons convicted of collaboration with Israel as they carried out criminal acts and negatively affected the public security.”

PCHR stresses that law has never been enforced by violating it.  PCHR also emphasized that achieving security and deterring crimes will not be by applying death penalty, but by having a strong security system, which prevents the crime, reveals its circumstances and analyzes its reasons according to the law and international human rights standards. PCHR also stresses that death penalty is not an effective deterrent, as said or believed, according to researches and reality.

PCHR stresses that according to the law, death sentences should be ratified by the Palestinian Presidents to be applied, and violating this would consider apply those sentences as extra-judicial executions.  Thus, those who ordered and applied the executions should be legally and criminally held accountable.  This is stipulated in many laws, including the 2003 Palestinian Basic Law (PBL) and 2001 Penal Procedure Law, particularly Article 109 of PBL which provides the following:

“A death sentence pronounced by any court may not be implemented unless endorsed by the President of the Palestinian National Authority.”

PCHR is also concerned over the application of death sentences in light of absence of litigation guarantees in the military courts and the previous investigation proceedings, which are always unlawfully applied and not within the competent institutions.

According to human rights reports and PCHR’s follow up, torture is systemically used against those convicted of collaboration while being interrogated.  This happens in light of absence of right to defense guarantees, including having a lawyer in the interrogation stage and absence of independent judiciary that should be formed according to the law, particularly the PBL.

This reality doubts both the convictions issued against those persons and their accuracy and objectivity and so puts security in danger.  Thus, this completely refutes the claims that applying these sentences came to achieve security.

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