New Death Sentence in Gaza: Use of Death Penalty in Gaza Violates Palestine’s International Obligations
Date: 13 September 2021
Time: 09:20 GMT
On Sunday, 12 September 2021, the First Instance Court in Gaza issued a death sentence by hanging against (M. H.) (34) from Eastern Gaza after he was convicted of the premeditated murder of (M. H. A.) and possession of unlicensed weapon on 26 September 2019 in a family dispute.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns such heinous 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 according to the law. In the meantime, PCHR insists on its position that the death penalty is not the only mean to achieve justice or deter 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.
This is the seventh sentence of its kind in 2021 in the Gaza Strip as 6 previous death sentences were issued this year: 5 at courts of first instance and one by the Military Appeal Court. Thus, the total number of death sentences issued by courts of first instance in the Palestinian territory since 1994 reached 242; 30 in the West Bank and 212 in the Gaza Strip. Among those issued in the Gaza Strip, 153 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 related to the death penalty in the Palestinian Law until an elected legislative authority assumes the legislative power and abolishes it from Palestinian legislations.