Three men executed by Hamas, UN and EU condemn
Hamas executes three people in the Gaza Strip
On 7 April 2012, the Hamas authorities in Gaza executed three Palestinians condemned to death by Gaza courts: Walid Khaled Jarbo’a, age 27, of the al-Bureij refugee camp, convicted of collaboration with Israel and condemned to death in 2012; Muhammad Ahmad Barakah, age 49, of Deir al-Balah, convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 2010; and Muhammad Jamil ‘Abdin, age 20, of Rafah, convicted of raping and murdering a 12-year-old boy and sentenced to death in 2010.
Since Hamas took over in Gaza, 32 people have been sentenced to death by its courts, and ten people have been executed, including some who were sentenced to death before the Hamas takeover.
In the West Bank, Palestinian Authority courts have sentenced 71 people to death since the PA was established in 1995. Thus far, 13 of them have been executed.
Under Palestinian law, execution of a condemned person requires authorization by the President of the Palestinian Authority. Since assuming the presidency in 2005, Mahmoud Abbas has refused to authorize executions, and none have been performed since then in the West Bank. Meanwhile, West Bank courts continue to mete out death sentences.
In Gaza, the Hamas regime resumed executions, arguing that Abbas’ tenure had ended and hence the Hamas government does not recognize him as President and his authorization is no longer required.
In the Hamas and PA prisons there are currently dozens of people under sentence of death and uncertain of their eventual fate. Nine of them are in West Bank prisons and the rest are in Gaza.
B’Tselem condemns the use of capital punishment, which is immoral and a violation of human rights. There is no place for such punishment on the law books, regardless of the crimes committed. The PA and the Hamas government must revoke the death penalty altogether. Meanwhile, the Hamas regime must cease carrying out executions.
The U.N.’s human rights office says three men recently sentenced to death in the Palestinian territory of Gaza were executed unlawfully.
A spokesman for U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay says the men didn’t have regular access to lawyers and were tried by a military court despite being civilians.
Rupert Colville told reporters in Geneva that the death sentences carried out by hanging April 7 also weren’t approved by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as required by law.
The U.N. rights office is calling on Gaza’s ruling Hamas faction to halt a planned execution by firing squad.
At least 18 men have been executed in Gaza since Hamas seized power there in 2007.
The Palestinian Authority effectively halted the practice in the West Bank in 2004.
By Al Arabiya with Agencies
EU officials in Jerusalem and Ramallah on Wednesday condemned Gaza’s Hamas rulers for executing three prisoners and urged the Islamist movement to give up the practice of capital punishment.
The Hamas-run interior ministry on Saturday said three prisoners had been executed, one of whom was convicted of “collaborating” with Israel and two others were deemed complicit in murder.
All three were hanged in what were the first such executions this year.
A Hamas statement said the families of the victims could have saved the condemned men by forgiving them at the last minute, but they all refused.
“The de facto authorities in Gaza must refrain from carrying out any executions of prisoners and comply with the de facto moratorium on executions put in place by the Palestinian Authority, pending abolition of the death penalty in line with the global trend,” a European Union statement said.
“The EU considers that abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights. It considers capital punishment to be cruel and inhuman, failing to provide deterrence to criminal behavior, and representing an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity.”
The last time prisoners were executed on charges of collaborating was in July 2011, when two Palestinians were put to death on the charge.
A month later, three more people were executed on charges unrelated to collaboration, rights groups say.
Under Palestinian law, collaboration with Israel, murder and drug trafficking are all punishable by death.
All execution orders must be approved by the Palestinian president before they can be carried out, but Hamas no longer recognizes the legitimacy of Mahmoud Abbas, whose four-year term ended in 2009.
Gaza’s Hamas rulers have executed at least 18 men since seizing power in 2007.
In recent months, Hamas has arrested several alleged collaborators, and warned it would prosecute any “traitor” working for the Jewish state.
The Palestinian Authority, which rules the West Bank, also has the death penalty. But President Abbas has not approved an execution since 2004, effectively halting the practice there.
State executions in 2011
Saudi Arabia 82
N Korea 30
S. Sudan 5
PA (Gaza) 3
Of the 194 independent states recognised by the UN, 92 have abolished capital punishment and there is an effective moratorium in a further 48 making 140 where the state does not execute people.
For a full account of the use of the death penalty and the very large number of people in prison under sentence of death see Amnesty report