14 August 2013
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has urged the Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip not to carry out planned executions.
“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,” she said.
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 added.
The High Commissioner 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,” Ms. Pillay said.
*See International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Under Article 6, the right to life is protected and the use of the death penalty is restricted to the most serious crimes under extremely limited circumstances. Article 14 sets out guarantees of a fair trial.
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