GAZA: Amnesty International Calls Executions by Hamas in Gaza 'Deplorable'

Press Release
April 15, 2010

GAZA: Amnesty International Calls Executions by Hamas in Gaza 'Deplorable'

Amnesty International Press Release
Thursday, April 15, 2010

Amnesty International Calls Executions by Hamas in Gaza 'Deplorable'

Contact: AIUSA media office, 202-509-8188, media@aiusa.org

(Washington, DC) - Amnesty International today condemned the executions by the Hamas de facto authority of two Palestinian men in Gaza in the early hours of this morning.  Both men had been convicted in 2009 by military courts in Gaza on charges of collaboration with the Israeli military and involvement in murder.

"Today's executions are an extremely retrograde step by Hamas.  As the first executions since 2005, we are gravely concerned for the other Palestinian prisoners in Gaza who have been given death sentences by the military courts" said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy program director of Amnesty International's Middle East program.  "We deplore that these men were convicted in unfair military proceedings."

While a number of people accused of collaboration have been killed in Gaza by Hamas militias and other armed groups since its takeover of power in June 2007, today’s executions represent the first formal executions carried out by the Hamas de facto authority in Gaza.

In a statement released by the Hamas de facto administration this morning, the head of military justice in Gaza, Colonel Ahmed Atallah, confirmed the execution of Nasser Salama Mohammed Abu Freih from Jabaliyya in northern Gaza and Mohammed Ibrahim Ahmed Isma'il (known as al-Sab'a) from Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip.  The bodies of the two men were brought to al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City this morning; both men had reportedly been shot.

Nasser Abu Freih, a 34 year old police sergeant, was convicted of treason and involvement in murder by a military court in Gaza on February 22, 2009 and sentenced to death by firing squad.  Mohammed Isma'il, a 36 year old taxi driver, was sentenced to death by hanging on November 3, 2009 on charges of espionage and cooperation with hostile parties, and being an accessory to murder.

Background

Under Palestinian law, death sentences must be ratified by the Palestinian Authority (PA) President before they can be carried out.  Due to the ongoing stand-off between the Hamas de facto administration and the PA, death sentences passed by Hamas military courts since June 2007 have not received the presidential ratification necessary for their implementation.

Concerns were raised in March when high-ranking Hamas officials announced their intention to start executing prisoners convicted of collaboration and murder.  On March 31, Amnesty International urged the Hamas de facto authority not to implement outstanding death sentences.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty and considers it contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in particular, a violation of the right to life and the right not to be tortured or subject to any cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

###