JERUSALEM: EU officials in Jerusalem and Ramallah on Wednesday condemned Gaza’s Hamas rulers for executing three prisoners and urged the Islamist movement to give up the practice of capital punishment.
The Hamas-run interior ministry on Saturday said three prisoners had been executed, one of whom was convicted of “collaborating” with Israel and two others were deemed complicit in murder.
All three were hanged in what were the first such executions this year.
“The de facto authorities in Gaza must refrain from carrying out any executions of prisoners and comply with the de facto moratorium on executions put in place by the Palestinian Authority, pending abolition of the death penalty in line with the global trend,” a European Union statement said.
“The EU considers that abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights. It considers capital punishment to be cruel and inhuman, failing to provide deterrence to criminal behavior, and representing an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity.”
The last time prisoners were executed on charges of collaborating was in July 2011, when two Palestinians were put to death.
A month later, three more people were executed on charges unrelated to collaboration, rights groups say.
Under Palestinian law, collaboration with Israel, murder and drug trafficking are all punishable by death.
All execution orders must be approved by the Palestinian president before they can be carried out, but Hamas no longer recognizes the legitimacy of Mahmud Abbas, whose four-year term ended in 2009.
In recent months, Hamas has arrested several alleged collaborators, and warned it would prosecute any “traitor” working for the Jewish state.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, a Strasbourg-based international rights group, joined condemnation of the latest Gaza executions in a statement on Wednesday.
“By this barbaric and ignoble act, the authorities in Gaza have deliberately chosen alienation from the values that the Council of Europe stands for,” the group’s president, Jean-Claude Mignon.
“Recourse to capital punishment anywhere is quite simply unjustifiable,” he said. “Such an irreversible, cruel and inhuman punishment is utterly unacceptable in any civilized society.”