PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 21/22/99
UA 327/99 Death Penalty 29 December 1999
PALESTINIAN AUTHORITYHussein Hashem Saleh Abu Nahel, aged 22
On 27 December 1999, Hussein Hashem Saleh Abu Nahel, a policeman, was sentenced
to death by firing squad after being found guilty of murder. The trial, before
a Higher Military Court in Gaza, was grossly unfair. Although his death sentence
must now be ratified by President Yasser Arafat before it can be carried out,
past executions have take place soon after a conviction.
Hussein Abu Nahel, his brother, Saleh Hashem Saleh Abu Nahel, and a cousin,
‘Imad Nu’man Saleh Abu Nahel, were tried in December 1999 for murdering their
relative, Ayman Mahmud Abu Nahel, aged 23, in November, in what is believed
to have been a family feud. His brother was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment
for illegal possession of weapons while his cousin was acquitted.
The men were represented by three police officers who were appointed by the
court after two defence lawyers quit in protest at not being given enough time
to prepare their case and the court then refused to accept a third defence
lawyer. It is not known whether they were qualified as lawyers. No witnesses
were apparently called. The Higher Military Court does not allow any appeal.
The Palestinian Authority has executed three people in the past two years,
most recently on 26 February 1999. On each occasion trials were summary and
grossly unfair, and those convicted were executed shortly after the trial.
Although Amnesty International recognizes the role of governments in bringing
the perpetrators of crime to justice, this must be done using a fair and just
legal system. The organization is opposed to the use of the death penalty as
the ultimate form of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a violation
of the right to life.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in
Arabic or English or your own language:
- expressing sympathy for the victims of violent crimes and their families
and acknowledging the role of governments in bringing the perpetrators to
- expressing unconditional opposition to the death penalty, however, which
has never been shown to have a unique deterrent effect and which is brutalizing
to all involved in its application;
- expressing concern that the trial before the Higher Military Court was unfair
and allows no right of appeal in contradiction of the requirements of
international human rights standards;
- urging President Yasser Arafat to commute the death sentence passed down
to Hussein Hashem Saleh Abu Nahel and to order a retrial for him with full
respect for fair trial standards enshrined in international law;
- urging that no more executions be carried out in the Palestinian Authority
and that the government work towards abolishing the death penalty.
President Yasser Arafat