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Gaza: Hamas' threat to publicly execute prisoners after Eid is 'deeply disturbing'

‘We are urging Hamas to immediately halt all executions planned for after Eid al-Fitr’ - Philip Luther

The Hamas authorities in Gaza must halt several executions they say they plan to carry out after this week’s Muslim religious festival of Eid al-Fitr, Amnesty International said today.

Last week Hamas’ Attorney General said that several convicted “criminals” are set to be executed in public as a “lesson” to others.

One of those at risk is a 27-year-old man known as “H.M.A.”. While detained in relation to an accusation of the unintentional homicide of a friend in 2009, he was apparently tortured to “confess” to the rape and murder of a six-year-old boy in 2000 - when H.M.A. himself was under 18. Though in 2010 he was convicted in both cases and sentenced to two life sentences, an appeal by the prosecution saw the sentence increased to the death penalty - in violation of international standards and Palestinian law, neither of which allow capital punishment for killings committed by those under 18.

A 23-year-old prisoner known as “F.A.” is also at risk. He was sentenced to death on 24 March for “collaboration with an enemy entity” by the Central Military Court in Gaza City. According to his lawyer, he appeared in court weeping and with a bruised face. He told his lawyer that he’d been hung by his wrists and ankles and beaten during interrogation. His appeal at the Military High Court is due to be heard on 14 August - if unsuccessful, he will be at risk of imminent execution.

Meanwhile some 40 other prisoners are under sentence of death in Gaza, where torture and other ill-treatment of detainees in the custody of Hamas security agencies are widespread and systematic. For example, Na’el Jamal Qandil Doghmosh was executed on 17 July 2012, having apparently “confessed” to murder under torture. His family said that during interrogation his nails were torn out and they saw burns and bruises on his body.  

The Ministry of Interior this week echoed the Attorney General’s threats to hold executions when a spokesperson confirmed the Minister’s readiness to carry out “public” executions to deter “offenders who seek to disrupt the security of society”. Gaza’s last executions took place on 22 June, when two men known as “A.M.Gh.” and “H.J.Kh.” were executed at the Jawazat police compound in Gaza, convicted of “collaborating with the enemy”. H.J.Kh. reportedly confessed after being tortured.

Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Director Philip Luther said

“This and other recent announcements by Hamas authorities that they will carry out further executions are deeply disturbing.

“We acknowledge the right and responsibility of governments to bring to justice those suspected of criminal offences, but the death penalty is cruel and inhuman, and there is no evidence that it deters crime more effectively than other punishments.

“Public executions are degrading and compound the cruelty of the death penalty.

“We are urging Hamas to immediately halt all executions planned for after Eid al-Fitr, and to go further by establishing a moratorium on the use of the death penalty and commuting all death sentences.”  

The Hamas administration - which has governed Gaza since mid-2007 - has carried out at least 16 executions since April 2010. Eight of those executed had been convicted of murder and the other eight of “collaborating” with the Israeli authorities.

Amnesty opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution.

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