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Al Mezan Demands the Abolishment of the Death Penalty in the OPT

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14 June 2005 |Reference 36/2005

On June 12, 2005, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) executed four Palestinians in the Gaza Central Prison who were found guilty of kidnapping, rape and murder.
The men executed included: Odeh Mahmud Azab from Khan Younis, who was sentenced by the Central Court Salah Khalil Mosallam from KhanYounis, who was sentenced by the High Criminal Court Wael Shaaban Al Shubaki from Gaza City, who was sentenced by the Military Court Mohammed Daoud Al-Khawaja from Al Shati Refugee Camp, who was sentenced by the State Security Court It should be noted that the State Security Court is recognized for its failure to grant Palestinians a fair trial, a right guaranteed by international law.
Numerous demands have been made for the provision of new trials for individuals with sentences resulting from such unfair practices.
Additionally, the selection criteria for executing Palestinians have not been made public.
Without public scrutiny, arbitrary decisions risk going unchecked.
According to the sources of Al Mezan, these four executions took place without prior notice, thus depriving all of those facing death their right to see their families for the last time.
There are approximately 70 other Palestinians that have been handed down death sentences since the establishment of the PNA that risk similar treatment.
While Al Mezan generally supports upholding judicial decisions and the rule of law, the Center considers the Palestinian courts use of the death penalty to be an ineffective and immoral punishment.
Numerous studies demonstrate that the death penalty does not in fact deter crime.
Additionally, the Center views such executions as a serious violation of the right to life, the most fundamental of all human rights.
The death penalty should not be viewed as an integral part of the reform process but as a misguided attempt to respond to the deleterious security situation in the OPT.
The reform process, rather, is based on respect for international law including respect for human rights, life, the Palestinian Constitution, the rule of law and democracy.
As a result, in order to comply with the principles of the reform process the PNA ought to replace the death penalty with new and more humane forms of punishment.
Al Mezan calls upon the PLC to pass a law that prohibits death sentences.
The Center also urges the Palestinian President, Mahmud Abbas, to employ his constitutional powers by not approving death penalties.
The Center also urges him to support the conversion of death sentences into appropriate prison sentences.