Human rights group urges Hamas to halt planned executions

Amnesty International calls public executions "disturbing," call on Gaza leadership to place moratorium on death penalty.

hamas men at funeral 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
hamas men at funeral 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Human rights group Amnesty International urged Hamas not to carry out planned executions after the Muslim festival of Id al-Fitr.
The article, posted on Thursday, followed statements made last week by Hamas’s Attorney-General Ismail Jaber saying that Hamas planned to execute certain criminals as a public lesson.
“This and other recent announcements by Hamas authorities that they will carry out further executions are deeply disturbing,” said Philip Luther, director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.
“We acknowledge the right and responsibility of governments to bring to justice those suspected of criminal offenses, but the death penalty is cruel and inhuman, and there is no evidence that it deters criminals more effectively than other punishments,” Luther added.
According to Amnesty International, several of the “criminals” slated for execution confessed to their crimes under extreme duress.
This suggests a possible breakdown in Hamas’s judicial system.
Luther said, “Hamas should pursue justice by prosecuting people accused of internationally recognizable crimes in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty and ensuring all allegations of torture are investigated.”
However, whether or not the crimes were indeed committed, Luther slammed the concept of public executions, calling them “degrading” and adding that they “compound the cruelty of the death penalty.”
The planned executions would not be the first time Hamas has carried out death sentences publicly. In June, two unidentified men were hanged publicly after being accused of spying for Israel.
Sixteen Palestinians have been executed in Gaza for spying since Hamas seized the territory in 2007.
Luther added that Amnesty International was asking Hamas to place a “moratorium on the use of the death penalty and commuting all death sentences.”
Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.