On Wednesday, 27 January 2021, the Court of First Instance in Deir al-Balah sentenced a 25-year-old man to death by hanging, following his conviction for the murder of Ahmed Ali al-Najar, 27, on 7 March 2017.
Al Mezan’s documentation shows that in January 2021 alone, authorities in the Gaza Strip handed down two death sentences. This brings the number of death sentences issued in the Palestinian territories since 1994 to a total of 249. Most notably, 219 of these sentences were issued in the Gaza Strip, with 85 of them being carried out.
Al Mezan reiterates its criticism of the use of the death penalty, even for serious crimes, as the practice constitutes a form of torture or ill-treatment. It is also widely regarded as ineffective in preventing or deterring serious crime. International law provisions also require states using capital punishment to do so only while maintaining strict compliance with due process rights—a legal caveat that raises further red flags in relation to the courts in Gaza.
Al Mezan recalls that Palestinian authorities are obligated to uphold Palestine’s obligations under international human rights law that arise from the State’s accession to international treaties, especially the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.
Therefore, Al Mezan calls on the competent Palestinian authorities to immediately stop issuing death sentences, to completely abolish the practice, and to comprehensively review and revise relevant laws in order to ensure their compliance with Palestine’s international obligations—including those arising from the ICCPR and its Second Optional Protocol.
The authorities in Gaza must not proceed with implementation of the death sentences already issued, as the legal safeguards to do so are not met and the practice is akin to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.