Monday, 10 December 2018—the Permanent Military Court in Gaza sentenced M.A., 24, a resident of Al-Shati’ refugee camp in Gaza to death by firing squad. M.A. was found guilty of ‘intentional murder’ in the killing of Mithqal Al-Salmi, 34, on 9 November 2016.
The Judicial Authority’s statement on the sentence, which was published by the Ministry of Interior on 10 December 2018, explained that the sentence was issued according to articles 378(a) and 379 of the Revolutionary Penal Code of 1979. Two other accomplices, M.M., 24, and M.T., 23, were sentenced to seven and ten years in prison, respectively, as per articles 378, 88 and 89 of the Code. The Court stated that the sentences are subject to appeal.
Al Mezan stresses that the Revolutionary Penal Code of 1979 is not part of the legal framework in Palestine according to Presidential Decree No. 1 of 1994 and therefore cannot lawfully be relied on by courts. The Code is also not in conformity with international law and for example does not provide for the right to fair trial.
Documentation by Al Mezan Center for Human Rights shows that at 4:30pm on Wednesday, 9 November 2018, Mithqal Al-Salmi was shot to death while near his home in Bloc 4 of Al-Shati’ refugee camp in the west of Gaza City. Al-Salmi had been sitting with two friends in front of their house when a masked person in black shot him twice from a short distance. The shooter then fled.
While acknowledging the severity of the crime, Al Mezan calls on the competent authorities to retract the death sentence and replace it with an alternative penalty that complies with Palestine’s obligations under the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Signed by the Palestinian President on 7 June 2018, the Protocol commits its members to the abolition of the death penalty within their borders. Al Mezan recalls that the government authorities in Gaza are considered a duty bearer under international human rights law.
Al Mezan stresses its deep concern about the continued issuance of death sentences and urges Palestinian authorities to prohibit the use of the death penalty in accordance with international law obligations.