Gaza Issues 8 New Death Sentences in October: PCHR Calls for End of Death Penalty and Warns of Leniency in its Issuance
Date: 24 October 2021
Time: 11:20 GMT
On Thursday, 21 October 2021, the Gaza First Instance Court issued 2 death sentences by hanging against (S. H.) (31) and (M. S.) (26), both from Gaza City, after they were convicted of murdering (‘A. M.) for robbery on 06 March 2018.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the leniency in the use of the death sentences while it condemns murders, considering them an assault on the whole society. PCHR also emphasizes its total support for the families of victims and stresses their right to remedy and justice. In the meantime, PCHR insists on its position that the death penalty is not the only mean to achieve justice or deter those who may attempt to commit such crimes; rather, it is an inhumane way that conflicts with Palestine’s international legal obligations under the 1989 Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.
PCHR expresses its absolute position against trying civilians before military courts, in violation of Article 30 of the Palestinian Basic Law “Each Palestinian shall have the right to seek redress in the judicial system.”
With these sentences, the number of death sentences issued this year in the Gaza Strip raised to 1197: 15 at courts of first instance (7 by military courts against civilians) and 4 by appeal courts. Thus, the total number of death sentences issued by courts of first instance in the Palestinian territory since 1994 reached 250; 30 in the West Bank and 220 in the Gaza Strip. Among those issued in the Gaza Strip, 161 sentences were issued after the 2007 Palestinian political division.
Since the establishment of the PA in 1994, 41 death sentences were executed: 39 in the Gaza Strip, and two in the West Bank. Of those executed in the Gaza Strip, 28 were carried out without the ratification of the Palestinian President in violation of Palestinian law. In this context, PCHR commends the Palestinian President’s position not to ratify any death sentence since 2005 and stresses the need to refrain from ratifying death sentences in a prelude to abolishing this punishment from the Palestinian legislations.
PCHR reminds the authorities in Gaza of Palestine’s international legal obligations under the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which obliges Palestine to suspend use of the death penalty as a prelude to its abolishment from Palestinian legislations. Therefore, PCHR calls on the authorities in the Gaza Strip not to use the death penalty and replace it with a life sentence with hard labor.
PCHR also calls upon the Palestinian President to issue a law by decree to suspend the use of legal articles that permit the death penalty in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, until an elected legislative authority assumes the legislative power and abolishes it from Palestinian legislations.