UN rights agency condemns executions in Gaza, urges moratorium on death penalty

OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani. Photo:UN Multimedia

7 April 2017 – The United Nations human rights office today strongly condemned the execution of three men in Gaza for “collaboration with the occupier” and urged authorities to halt all further executions and comply with Palestine's obligations under international law.

Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) told reporters in Geneva that the executions took place “despite our appeal and those by other international and Palestinian organizations for the sentences not to go ahead.”

OHCHR stressed that the executions “were carried out in breach of Palestine's obligations under international law,” including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, whose conditions on the use of the death penalty were not abided.

The defendants had been convicted of treason under the PLO Revolutionary Penal Code on the basis of what is termed “collaboration with the occupier”.

The conviction of “treason” does not meet the threshold of “most serious crimes,” as stipulated by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Ms. Shamdasani said. These are typically understood as intentional killings.

In addition, the defendants were tried in military court, in contravention of international law.

“We are also concerned that trials in Gaza resulting in the imposition of a death sentence do not appear to meet international fair trial standards,” the spokesperson said.

She said that the accusations were insufficiently investigated, raising the possibility that the confession may have been coerced.

“We urge the authorities in Gaza to halt further executions and comply with Palestine's obligations under international law,” said Ms. Shamdasani.

“We also call on the State of Palestine to immediately establish an official moratorium on the use of the death penalty with a view to its abolition.”


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