Citing serious concerns, UN human rights chief urges Hamas to halt Gaza executions

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

14 August 2013 – The United Nations human rights chief today urged Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip not to carry out planned executions, saying she is concerned about the process by which death sentences are imposed there.

“I am deeply concerned at the possibility that executions might be carried out over the course of the next weeks in Gaza and urgently appeal to the de facto authorities there not to implement any death sentences,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a news release.

Gaza is run by the Hamas group, which ousted the Fatah movement from the Strip in 2007.

The Attorney General in Gaza made several announcements during Ramadan that after the Eid al-Fitr celebrations, which have just ended, executions of people sentenced to death would take place.

“I am concerned about the process by which death sentences are imposed by military and civilian courts in the Gaza Strip,” Ms. Pillay said. “Serious concerns have also been raised about ill-treatment and torture during interrogations of persons later sentenced to death.”

She noted that international human rights law requires compliance with rigorous fair trial standards in cases where death sentences are applied.

“One absolute requirement is that the death penalty can only be imposed after a fair trial. This is currently not possible in Gaza, neither legally nor practically,” said Ms. Pillay.

“Therefore, I repeat my appeal to the de facto authorities in Gaza to implement a moratorium on executions and to fully uphold and promote the right to life.”

The overall global trend on the use of the death penalty has seen the number of executions worldwide decline. An estimated 150 UN Member States have abolished the death penalty or introduced a moratorium, either in law or practice.


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