Press briefing note on Syria and Gaza
Date: 7 April 2017
Subject: (1) Syria, (2) Gaza
We condemn in the strongest terms the execution of three men in Gaza on Thursday, despite our appeal and those by other international and Palestinian organizations for the sentences not to go ahead. The defendants had been convicted of treason under the PLO Revolutionary Penal Code on the basis of what is termed “collaboration with the occupier”.
These executions were carried out in breach of Palestine’s obligations under international law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which places stringent conditions on the use of the death penalty.
A number of these conditions were breached in Thursday’s executions. The individuals were convicted of treason, which does not meet the threshold of “most serious crimes”. Under international human rights law, these are understood to be intentional killings. They were civilians convicted by a military court, again in contravention of international law.
We are also concerned that trials in Gaza resulting in the imposition of a death sentence do not appear to meet international fair trial standards. Allegations of torture, which the authorities have not investigated sufficiently, raise the possibility that confessions may have been coerced. Also, individuals cannot effectively exercise their right to seek a pardon or have their sentence commuted, as required by international law. Under Palestinian law, a pardon or commutation can only be granted by the President.
We urge the authorities in Gaza to halt further executions and comply with Palestine’s obligations under international law. We also call on the State of Palestine to immediately establish an official moratorium on the use of the death penalty with a view to its abolition.
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