The Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) Condemns the Issuing of a Death Sentence by the Military Court of Gaza City
On October 12, 2011, the Permanent Military Court of Gaza City issued a death sentence by hanging against Mr. Bilal Sa’d Al-Masri, a 22 year old citizen from the neighborhood of Beit Lahiya, and against Mr. Jihad Abdullah Al-Sabi’, a 23 year old citizen from Shikh Zayid city in the northern Gaza Strip. Both sentences were handed down after being convicted of ‘terrorism’ in accordance with the Revolutionary Penal Law of PLO of 1979.
According to complaints made by family members to the ICHR, Mr. Al-Masri and Mr. Al-Sabi’ were detained in Gaza Rehabilitation and Reform Center (Gaza’s central prison). They were arrested on February 15, 2010 by the internal security apparatus in Gaza and were presented to the military judiciary from where their sentence was handed down. They were convicted of setting an explosive device outside Al-Waha café in Rimal neighborhood in Gaza city, which killed Rami Jamil and wounded five others.
These two sentences were issued despite the numerous calls by ICHR and other human rights organizations to end the issuing of death sentences in the Palestinian-controlled Territory, and the executions of such sentences since it violates human rights law, in particular the right to life. In addition, presenting civilians before military courts is a violation of international trial standards, which insures that the accused should be presented before a civil judge.
While ICHR insists on the importance and necessity of criminal punishment, and does not undermine in any way the gravity of the crime committed by the accused, it renews its demands:
- The president of the Palestinian National Authority not to ratify the death sentence and replacing it with another appropriate penalty.
- The government in Gaza not to carry any death sentences.
- Death sentences cease in the future, in line with efforts made by the international community towards abolishing the death penalty, and replacing it with a more humane punishment that achieves criminal justice.