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Human Rights Commissioner Löning: Do not enforce the death penalty in Gaza

09.08.2013 - Press release

In the light of the impending execution of four men condemned to death in Gaza, Federal Government Human Rights Commissioner Markus Löning issued the following statement today (9 August):

After two men were executed by hanging in June 2013 according to reports by non governmental organisations, four more men currently face the death penalty.

Human rights organisations maintain confessions have been extracted under torture. According to Amnesty International, the same holds true in the above cases.

I call upon those responsible in Gaza not to impose the death penalty. Furthermore, I issue a call to revoke death sentences that have been imposed and introduce a moratorium on executions.

The death penalty is a horrific and unjustifiable form of punishment. We are working to see it abolished worldwide.

Background information

In the Gaza Strip, where Hamas has provided the de facto government since 2007, the death penalty is imposed and carried out. There is no indication of efforts to suspend or abolish the enforcement of the death penalty. In the West Bank that is governed by the Palestinian Authority there has been a moratorium on the death penalty since 2005.

There has been a clear increase in the number of death penalties imposed in recent years in Gaza. According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, 30 death penalties have been handed down since March 2010 and 14 executions have been carried out. Given the population size, these figures demonstrate the number of death sentences is disproportionately high.

Currently British Mandate Criminal Code Ordinance No. 74 dating back to 1936 applies in Gaza. According to this legislation, the death penalty can be imposed for 15 offences. The catalogue of offences which can be punished by the death penalty is very broad compared to other countries. Human rights organisations maintain confessions have been extracted under torture.

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