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Comment by the Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, on possible imminent executions in Gaza

GENEVA (25 May 2016) - “We are deeply concerned about recent statements made by the authorities in Gaza, including the Attorney General, of their intention to implement a number of death sentences, and fear that the first executions may be imminent. The Gaza authorities’ statements follow the demands of several families for the death penalty to be carried out against individuals accused of killing their relatives.

Death sentences may only be carried out in extremely limited circumstances, and pursuant to a trial and appeals that scrupulously follow fair trial standards. We have serious doubts as to whether capital trials in Gaza meet these standards. We are also concerned about reports indicating that these executions will be implemented without the approval of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, which is required under Palestinian law.

Media reports indicating that the sentences could be carried out in public also raise alarm, as this is a practice which is prohibited under international human rights law.

We urge the authorities in Gaza to uphold their obligations to respect the rights to life and to a fair trial - which are guaranteed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the State of Palestine is a party - and not carry out these executions. We also urge the Palestinian President to establish a moratorium on executions in line with the strong international trend towards ending the use of the death penalty.”

ENDS
For more information and media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 97 67 / rcolville@ohchr.org), Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org) or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org)

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