On Wednesday, 11 November 2020, the Court of First Instance in Deir al-Balah, presided by three judges, sentenced in absentia a 35-year-old fugitive to death by hanging, following his conviction for the murder of Ragheb Sulaiman Abu Mughesib.
Al Mezan’s documentation shows that in November 2020 alone, the authorities in the Gaza Strip pronounced four death sentences. This brings the number of death sentences issued in 2020 to 17, the latest of which is the eighteenth 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.
While condemning all serious crimes and acts of murder, Al Mezan persists in denouncing the use of the death penalty, which is considered ineffective in preventing or discouraging serious crimes and constitutes a form of inhuman punishment. Al Mezan also notes that in countries which have not abolished the death penalty, death sentences can only be pronounced for the most serious crimes, and carried out solely in compliance with due process rights. In this regard, Al Mezan is concerned that the state of protracted division within the Palestinian judicial system may undermine the defendant’s right to a fair trial in murder cases. To guarantee this right, it is indeed necessary to verify the integrity of the procedures used during arrest, investigations, and the pronouncement of the verdict.
Al Mezan recalls that Palestinian authorities are obligated to uphold Palestine’s obligations under international human rights law arising from the State’s accession to international treaties, especially the ICCPR and its Second Optional Protocol. Therefore, they must (i) immediately cease issuing death sentences, (ii) completely abolish the death penalty, and (iii) comprehensively review relevant laws to ensure their compliance with Palestine’s international obligations.
 The morning of Saturday, 18 August 2012, Abu Mughesib, 42, was visiting a relative’s house in Wadi Salqa, Deir al-Balah, when he was shot and killed.