[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sun Nov 23 18:50:18 CST 2008
Gaza government seeks to bypass PA on death penalty
The Hamas government is planning to send Gaza's High Court of Justice the
petitions of families calling on the government to impose death sentences
on people convicted of murdering their kin or of being accessories to
Last Tuesday's government decision to approach the court circumvents the
legal authority of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to sign
the death warrants. In sending the matter to the court, the Gaza
government also frees itself of immediate pressure from the families.
A Gaza government official said the victims' families have been applying
serious pressure on the system, sending the government complaints about
the delay in carrying out the executions. There is a lot of public support
for the death sentence, which some regard as a better alternative to blood
vengeance carried out by the victims' families. However, human rights
groups and left-wing parties in the Palestine Liberation Organization
oppose capital punishment.
The recent government decision applies directly to 4 prisoners in Gaza,
who were convicted of raping and murdering a girl; 2 appeals courts have
already approved the death sentence that was handed down on them in 2004.
Other Palestinians on death row include 2 security officials convicted by
a Gaza military tribunal this year -1e for collaborating with Israel, the
other for murdering his colleague. But both are still allowed to appeal
their sentences, a process that can take several years, before Abbas is
due to sign the death warrant.
Altogether, 26 prisoners that have been sentenced to death over the last
few years are living in Gaza, although only 9 of them are imprisoned. In
June 2007, at the height of violent clashes between Hamas and Fatah in
Gaza, prisoners fled the jails. Some have since given themselves up,
primarily out of a fear for revenge. Only a few have been recaptured.
In the West Bank, 5 people were sentenced to death this year. 4 of them
were convicted of treason and collaborating with Israel's security forces.
Since the Palestinian Authority's establishment in 1994, Palestinian civil
or military courts in the West Bank and Gaza have handed down a total of
68 death sentences. Most of them were imposed by the State Security Court,
which Yasser Arafat established, though its existence and methods of
operation contravene both Palestinian and international law. The court's
activity has been suspended over the past several years.
Of the 68 Palestinians sentenced to death, 12 have been executed so far;
the last execution took place in 2005. Over the last few years, Arafat and
later Abbas have avoided signing death warrants.
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