Gaza Issues Six New Death Sentences in October: PCHR Condemns Leniency in Issuance of Death Sentences and Demands and Respect for Palestine’s International Obligations
Date: 21 October 2021
Time: 11:30 GMT
The Permeant Military Court in Gaza issued two death sentences for persons accused of collaborating with foreign entities. The first sentence was issued against W.M (57) yesterday, 20 October 2021; and the second was issued against R.S (46) on 13 October 2021. The defendants are both from Gaza.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the leniency in the use of the death sentences and emphasizes its condemnation of collaboration with the occupation and asserts that it is 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 also emphasizes its absolute rejection of prosecuting civilians before military courts, as it is in breach of Article 30 of the Palestinian Basic Law “Each Palestinian shall have the right to seek redress in the judicial system.”
With these decision, the number of death sentences issued this year in the Gaza Strip is raised to 17: 13 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 248; 30 in the West Bank and 218 in the Gaza Strip. Among those issued in the Gaza Strip, 159 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 demands the Gaza Authorities to refrain from putting civilians to trial before military courts, and to abide by their right to present before the appropriate judicial system, i.e. civil courts. . The Gaza authorities should also ensure them all judicial safeguards and their right to self-defense.
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.