Death sentence in the Palestinian Territories
On 6 April 2008, the Palestinian High Military Court in Jenin sentenced Mr Tha’er Mahmoud Husni Rmailat to death by firing squad. Mr Rmailat, an officer of the Palestinian Military Intelligence, was convicted for the murder of a member of the Palestinian National Security Forces.
The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP) is concerned that Mr Rmailat was not given the guarantees of a fair trial. In particular, his lawyer indicated that he was given only one day’s notice before the hearing when the legislation of the Palestinian Authority requires that a written notice be sent 72 hours in advance; and that his client was denied a psychological evaluation.
The WCADP notes with satisfaction that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas issued a decree on 22 June 2005 requesting that all death sentences pronounced by the State Security courts be retried in civilian courts as they were considered to fall short of international standards for fair trials and due process. It also notes that no execution has been carried out since July 2005.
It is concerned however that death sentences continue to be pronounced in conditions that contravene both international standards and the national legislation.
On 18 December 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution calling upon member states that maintain the death penalty to:
– Respect international standards that provide safeguards guaranteeing the protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty, in particular the minimum standards, as set out in the annex to Economic and Social Council resolution 1984/50 of 25 May 1984;
– Establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.
In the spirit of the 2005 presidential decree, attached to the fair administration of justice, and of the United Nations General Assembly resolution, the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty calls upon President of the Palestinian authority Mr Mahmoud Abbas
1) not to ratify Tha’er Rmailat’s death sentence;
2) to issue a Presidential Decree declaring a moratorium on the death penalty, pending total abolition by the Palestinian Legislative Council.