Permanent military court in Gaza issues new death sentence


Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

Press Releases, 09 February 2014

On Thursday, 06 February 2014, the Permanent Military Court sentenced (A. W. E.), 40, a civilian from Gaza City, to death by firing squad after convicting him of collaboration with hostile parties according to the Palestinian Revolutionary Penal Code of 1979. The sentence was issued in absentia as the abovementioned civilian has been out of the Gaza Strip since 2009.

According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights‘ (PCHR) documentation, this is the first death sentence to be issued in 2014.  Thus, the total number of death sentences issued by the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) has risen to 149 sentences since 1994, of which 27 have been issued in the West Bank and 122 in the Gaza Strip.  Among those issued in the Gaza Strip, 64 sentences have been issued since 2007 without ratification of the Palestinian President in violation of the law. Since its establishment, the PNA implemented 30 sentences, 28 of which were implemented in the Gaza Strip and 2 in the West Bank. Among those implemented in the Gaza Strip, 17 have been implemented since 2007 without ratification of the Palestinian President in violation of the law.

In light of the above, PCHR stresses the following:

1. Emphasizes that the Palestinian Authority has the right to prosecute alleged traitors for crimes of treason, including those who collaborate with Israeli occupation authorities.  However, PCHR highlights the right of each person to a fair trial conducted in accordance with accepted legal standards. Any penalty imposed must serve as a deterrent while also maintain standards of humanity.  PCHR also reiterates that its stance against the death penalty is a professional opinion based on legal and ethical standards; and

2. The 1979 Revolutionary Penal Code of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is unconstitutional when implemented by the PNA, as it has not been presented to, nor approved by the legislature. Since 1995, PCHR has repeatedly called for the abolition of this Code as it violates international standards of a fair trial.

PCHR is gravely concerned over the continued application of the death penalty in PNA controlled areas, and:

1. Calls for an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty as a form of punishment because it violates international human rights standards and instruments, especially the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), and the UN Convention against Torture (1984);

2. Stresses that ratification over death sentences is an exclusive right of the Palestinian President in conformity with the constitution and relevant laws;

3. Calls for reviewing all legislation related to the death penalty, especially Law No. 74 (1936) which remains in effect in the Gaza Strip, and the Jordanian Penal Code No. 16 (1960) that is in effect in the West Bank, and enacting a unified penal code that is in line with the spirit of international human rights instruments, especially those pertaining to the abolition of the death penalty;

4. Points out that the call for abolition of the death penalty does not reflect a tolerance for those convicted of serious crimes, but rather a call for utilizing deterrent penalties that maintain our humanity;