In the morning hours of 6 April 2017, the Ministry of Interior and National Security in the Gaza Strip executed A.M. 55, W.A. 42, and A.SH. 32, all sentenced to death after being convicted with “collaboration with the Israeli occupation.” Al Mezan Center for Human Rights expresses grave concern and strongly condemns the execution of death sentences, which are increasingly issued by the authorities in the Gaza Strip in a manner that contravenes Palestinian law. Al Mezan calls for the abolition of death penalty in Palestine.
On Monday, 17 October 2016, the High Military Court in the Gaza Strip upheld death sentence by hanging for A.M, 54, resident of Khan Younis, previously issued by the Permanent Military Court (PMC) on 16 March 2015. The military prosecutor accused A.M. of collaborating with the Israeli occupation, and on 17 April 2011 ordered detention. Initially, the Permanent Military Court sentenced A.M to 15 years in prison; however, the military prosecution appealed the ruling, and the sentence was changed to death penalty.
On Monday 18 April 2016, the Permanent Military Court sentenced W.A, 42, from Gaza to death by hanging after convicting him of “spying and giving information about the Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation.” W.A was arrested by the security forces and in detention since 17 April 2011 until the execution.
On 19 February 2017, the High Military Court both refused an appeal by A.M., – making the sentence final – and approved the ruling on death sentence against W.A.
On Thursday, 6 August 2015, the Permanent Military Court sentenced A.SH, from Al Naser neighborhood to death by hanging after a trial in which he was convicted of collaboration with the Israeli occupation. On Monday, 18 April 2016, the High Military Court approved the death sentence ruling.
According to Al Mezan’s monitoring of death sentences in Gaza, in the period between 15 July 2007 and 6 April 2017, 125 death sentences were pronounced and then upheld by the Gaza authorities. 62 of the convictions were based on “security-related” charges, while 63 were issued for criminal charges. During the same period, 64 people were executed – 47 for security-related charges and 17 for criminal charges. Of these, 37 were killed in extra-judicial executions conducted by armed groups.
Al Mezan condemns the continued use of death penalty in Palestine in contravention of Palestinian law, and despite the universal trend that calls for unconditional abolition of the practice. Al Mezan expresses deep concern by the continued implementation of the death penalty in Gaza, where authorities act in violation of the judicial procedures in Palestine. The 2001 Palestinian Code of Criminal Procedure, No. 3, clearly stipulates that any execution of a death sentence must be approved by the Palestinian President. Article 409 clearly affirms that, “[t]he death sentence shall not be executed without the ratification of the State President”.
As a matter of principle, Al Mezan reasserts the absolute rejection of the use of death sentence as a punitive measure. Death penalty does not deter crime; furthermore, it is cruel and degrading. Until death penalty is abolished, Al Mezan asserts that restrictions imposed by the Palestinian legislation, which aim at providing basic protections, must be respected at all times. Al Mezan further highlights the fundamental obligation of abiding by international instruments which the State of Palestine has ratified, particularly in this case the Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.