At 11am on Sunday, 19 November 2017, members of the security forces in Gaza shot dead the 32-year-old resident of Khirbet Al Adas in Rafah City, Awad Salim Al Shaer, while in police custody. Al Mezan Center for Human Rights demands that a credible and transparent investigation be initiated into the incident and that those who are proven to have violated the law, including law enforcement personnel for the misuse of firearms, be brought to justice.
According to the monitoring conducted by Al Mezan, the victim was detained by security forces on 13 November 2017. On Sunday, while in police custody, he was taken to a farm in Khirbat Al Adas, where the security forces conducted search and digging works to locate smuggled goods. Awad was handcuffed during the search. Shots were fired and Awad was fatally wounded. The bullet pierced Awad’s waist on the right side and passed leftward through his body. He was pronounced dead at Al Najjar hospital in Rafah where he was taken by the security forces.
Enraged by the circumstances of Awad’s death, a number of his family members set fire to a security post in front of the hospital and others damaged parts of the reception area.
The Palestinian Ministry of Interior commented on the incident by stating that the victim had been detained and then charged with smuggling—adding that Awad tried to escape, at which point the security forces shot at him. Awad was injured and taken to the hospital, but he died upon arrival, the Ministry explained.
Al Mezan is deeply concerned at the possibility that the security forces used excessive force in this incident. Such conduct would be a serious violation of the Palestinian Penal Procedure Law No. 3 of 2001, which prohibits the use of physical or psychological harm upon a detainee, and states that in the case of a detainee’s attempted escape, only reasonable and proportionate measures may be used by law enforcement officers. The actions of the security forces would further be considered a violation of the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials of 1979, Article (3), which states that “law enforcement officials may use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty.”
Al Mezan expresses our condolences to the victim’s family. The full respect for the rule of law must be upheld and the pursuit of justice should exhaust available legal channels. Violent and retaliatory conduct would only serve to compound and worsen a tragic situation.
Al Mezan demands that the Ministry of Interior launch an immediate and thorough investigation into the incident—with the conclusions made public. The authorities are under an obligation to bring to justice all those proven to have abused their authority or to have violated the penal procedures through the excessive and unnecessary use of force.