On Monday, 4 January 2021, the Court of First Instance in North Gaza sentenced a 33-year-old man to death by hanging, following his conviction for the murder of Nema Faris al-Nimnim (Azzam), 30, on 12 December 2015. Al Mezan condemns the Court’s use of the death penalty and reiterates UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remark that “the death penalty has no place in the 21st century.”
Al Mezan’s documentation shows that this is the first death sentence issued in the Gaza Strip in 2021 and the nineteenth since the State of Palestine ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, in 2019.
Al Mezan reiterates its criticism of the use of the death penalty, even for serious crimes, as the practice constitutes a form of inhuman punishment. It is also widely regarded as ineffective in preventing or deterring serious crime. International law provisions also require states using capital punishment to do so only while maintaining strict compliance with due process rights—a legal caveat that raises further red flags vis-à-vis the courts in Gaza.
Therefore, Al Mezan calls on the competent Palestinian authorities to immediately cease issuing death sentences, to completely abolish the death penalty, and to comprehensively review and revise relevant laws to ensure their compliance with Palestine’s international obligations—in particular, those stemming from the ICCPR and its Second Optional Protocol.
UN Secretary-General, “Secretary-General's remarks at Panel on “Transparency and the death penalty””, 10 October 2017, at: https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/statement/2017-10-10/secretary-generals-remarks-panel-%E2%80%9Ctransparency-and-death-penalty%E2%80%9D