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From the field

First PNA Execution

"Every person has the right to life, liberty, and security of person." (Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

The execution of brothers Ri'ad and Muhammad Abu-Sultan today in Gaza violates international law and constitutes the most blatant breach of the basic right of an individual - the right to life.

Beginning in the middle of 1995, Palestinian courts have imposed the death penalty against persons convicted of murder. These courts have ordered the death sentence after trials that ignored the basic principles of fair trial and due process.

However, this is the first case in which the Palestinian Authority has implemented the death sentence. In this case, as in previous death-sentence cases, the court passed its sentence after the briefest of legal procedures. The murder that the defendants were suspected of committing occurred on Thursday, 27 August. Three days later, the Abu-Sultan brothers were tried, sentenced, and executed.

The presence of members of the Legislative Council and Cabinet Ministers at the execution - as reported by Razi Jabali, the Palestinian Police Commander - is particularly grave in that it legitimizes such actions.

B'Tselem urges the Palestinian Authority to abolish the death penalty, and to ensure that every defendant receives a fair trial and due process.