In the early hours of Thursday, 15/04/2010, the Deposed government in the Gaza Strip executed two Palestinian citizens, Nasser Abu Freih and Mohammed Ismail, who were sentenced to death more than a year ago. Both bodies were handed over to Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
In a statement made by the Chief Military Justice published on the website of the Ministry of Interior, Colonel Ahmad Atallah announced that : "[…] the death sentences of two persons accused of collaboration with Israel were executed this morning, after the exhaustion of all possible appeals that rendered both sentences final, irrevocable and enforceable since the accused were granted their full rights. The execution of the death sentences came after the Minister of Interior of the Deposed government in the Gaza Strip issued statements on the government’s intentions in this regard".
The Supreme Military Court in Gaza city had on Sunday, February 22, 2009 sentenced Nasser Mohammed Abu Freih, born in 1976, and a resident of Jabal al-Kashef, north to Gaza, to death by firing squad on charges of treason and accomplice to murder.
The same court had also sentenced Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed Ismail, (also known as Al-Sabaa), a civilian resident of Rafah, born in 1973, to death by hanging after being convicted of espionage, collaboration with hostile parties and intentional accessory to murder on November 4, 2009.
According to information made available to the undersigned organizations, the number of death sentences issued by the Palestinian courts against Gaza citizens has reached 68 sentences since the creation of the Palestinian National Authority, of which 14 were carried out, including 12 against inhabitants of the Gaza Strip.
The Supreme Military Court usually bases its decisions and rulings on the provisions of the Revolutionary Penal Code of 1979 by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). The undersigned organizations hereby reaffirm their position that the PLO Revolutionary Code of 1979, by which Palestinian courts issue death sentences, is both unconstitutional (since it is not part of the PNA legislative system) and has not been presented to the Palestinian Legislative Council. Moreover, many of its provisions are inconsistent with relevant international standards because it does not apply standards of a fair trial that emphasize that trials of civil cases be carried out before their natural judge.
It should be noted that the Criminal Procedural Code No. 3 of 2001 regulates the procedures for execution of the death penalty and requires the President’s endorsement in his capacity as Head of the State where the death penalty shall not be implemented except after the President’s endorsement. Article (408) stipulates that "Once a death sentence becomes final, the Minister of Justice shall immediately refer the case file to the Head of the State. This provision is reiterated in Article (409) of the same law which states that “no death sentence may not be executed unless after the endorsement by the Head of the State.
Article (410) of the law also regulates the process of oversight and the parties responsible for overseeing the execution of the death sentence. The Military Law regulating the affairs and functions of the Palestinian military courts also requires the prior ratification on death sentences by the Commander of the Armed Forces (who is also the President).
The undersigned organizations, while expressing their strong objection to the death penalty since it violates a person’s fundamental right to life, deplore the Deposed Government’s execution of death sentences issued without due legal process by which the execution of death sentences without endorsement from the President of State is prohibited. The undersigned organizations also affirm that this objection does not diminish the seriousness of crimes committed by the convicted persons, nor do they support their impunity. The signatory organizations emphasize that:
- The PLO Revolutionary Penal Code is not a part of the PNA legal system. The death penalty violates the right to life which constitutes a basic and fundamental right of every human being and is therefore a non derogable right, even in cases of emergency. In comparison to other penalties, capital punishment is neither deterrent nor effective. It is inhuman and degrading and does not contribute to the realization of the criminal and humanitarian concepts of rehabilitation of convicted persons and their reintegration in the community.
- The Revolutionary Penal Code contradicts the standards of a fair trial, particularly the person’s right to trial by a competent, independent and impartial court formed in accordance to the law, in which all guarantees are provided to ensure that the accused is allowed to utilize and exhaust all means of self-defense.
- The execution of death sentences violates the provisions of the law and is considered a usurpation of powers since by law, the only authority to endorse their execution is restricted to the Head of State.
The undersigned organizations call for the Government in the Gaza Strip to halt the execution of other persons against whom death sentences have been issued.
The Signatory Organizations
Aldameer Association for Human Rights
The Palestinian Centre for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession (Musawa)
The Independent Commission for Human Rights - ICHR
The Gaza Mental Health Program
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights