MUSAWA sent a written memo to Public Prosecutor/ Ismail Jabr, Acting Head of Gaza’s Legislative Council/ Dr.Ahmad Bahar, Former Prime Minister/ Dr. Ismail Haniyeh, and Chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council/ Counsellor and Judge Abdul-Raouf Halabi, demanding that they stop the implementation of death sentences against a number of defendants, each in accordance with the powers granted to him. This procedure entails grave violations of existing laws and forms a prejudice to the Palestinian reputation, which in turn negatively affects international solidarity with the Palestinian people especially when it comes to the need to lift the siege on Gaza and end the suffering of its people. The memo is as follows:
Media statements by the Acting Head of Gaza’s Legislative Council/ Dr.Ahmad Bahar and Former Prime Minister/ Dr. Ismail Haniyeh, which expressed the intention of Gaza’s government to implement a number of death penalties in the upcoming days, and which were stressed by Gaza’s police spokesman/ Mr. Ayman Al-Batneeji through a phone call MUSAWA made regarding this matter and also through media statements by Gaza’s Public Prosecutor, stirred the legal reactions of many legal figures who expressed their opposition to implement death sentences for several political, legal, and constitutional reasons.
MUSAWA believes that it falls under our national and legal duties to demand of you to stop the implementation of death penalty sentences as they entail political, legal, and constitutional violations, manifested as follows:
- The sentences contradict with the articles and principles of the Basic Law, more specifically Article 109 which clearly and indisputably states “A death sentence pronounced by any court may not be implemented unless endorsed by the President of the Palestinian National Authority”. Given that you are partners in the national consensus government, which is assigned the tasks of the Executive Authority pursuant to the Basic Law which entails according to Article 408 of the Palestinian Code of Criminal Procedure No (3) of 2001 stating that when the death penalty becomes final the Ministry of Justice must submit the case file to the President immediately, the conditions for implementing death sentences should be available prior to the implementation itself. These conditions include: First, the issuance of a final court ruling (adjudication) by the highest judicial body (Court of Cassation). Second, the referral of the case file which must include the final court ruling pronounced by the Cassation Court, demanding the implementation of the death penalty against the accused, by the Minister of Justice; the only body legally competent to do so. Referral by any other body is considered as void as it would have been issued by a party that is non-competent and infringing of the powers of a body which was exclusively granted these powers by the law. Third, the endorsement of the sentences by the President of the State, being the only figure with the power to do so. With all due respect, the heads of the three authorities- Legislative Council, High Judicial Council, or Prime Minister do not have the authority or the competency to approve death sentences.
- We remind you that death penalties were abolished from the Palestinian legislation; there is no Palestinian legislation that allows the implementation of death sentences. Death sentences were explicitly abolished pursuant to a military order which wasn’t cancelled or replaced by a fundamental Palestinian legislation to allow the implementation of the sentence.
- We also remind you that the State of Palestine signed many international agreements that ensure the basic rights of citizens, first and foremost the right to life, fair trial guarantees, principles of criminal justice, and abiding by the penalties set forth in the laws and legislation that allow them. Therefore, debates regarding death penalties should be based on legitimate laws and legislation rather than ideological or religious considerations.
- You are well aware that Palestine is part of the international family and it is in an urgent need for international support to back up the national, political, and humanitarian rights of our people, as well as contribute to lifting the siege on the Gaza Strip. This requires the expansion of Palestine’s international circle and public opinion to support our people’s legitimate demand of a life of dignity and national independence. Implementing death sentences contrary to the law and fair trial procedures would negatively impact the positions of many countries as well as the international public opinion, thus increasing our people’s suffering rather than getting closer to escaping from it.
- Standing against the implementation of death sentences, we still believe that the purpose behind death penalties is social reform, which is inconsistent with the statements referring to implementing the death sentences in public spaces. Not only that, these statements also contradict with the explicit provisions of Article 418 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, defining the location for implementing death sentences in case they were supported by a law or a court ruling, stating that they should be implemented inside the country’s correction and rehabilitation centers and not in any other place.
MUSAWA, as a non-governmental independent and professional monitoring body, believes it falls under both its responsibilities and rights to ask you to cancel the announced decisions and proceedings and stop the policy of death penalties, let alone implementing them.
With all due respect,
Chairman of the Board of Directors
Lawyer Yasser Jaber