In a letter made public today, Human Rights Watch expressed grave concern that the Palestinian authority is reverting to a pattern of executions without due process after a twenty-two month hiatus.
Human Rights Watch called on Palestinian President Yasir Arafat to immediately suspend all executions and retry those with pending death sentences before courts that meet international fair trial standards. The letter said Human Rights Watch was deeply disturbed by the Palestinian Authority's repeated recourse to the death penalty in cases in which defendants received grossly unfair trials before state security and military courts whose verdicts may have been influenced by political considerations.
"These proceedings had little to do with justice," said Hanny Megally, executive director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa division. "These men were executed after trials lasting only a few hours, where they had no legal counsel or right to appeal."
The Palestinian Authority executed Allam Bani Ouda and Majdi Mikkawi on January 13, 2001, after their death sentences were confirmed by President Arafat. The two men, who were accused of collaboration with the Israeli secret services, were tried by a military court in a summary fashion without access to lawyers and the right of appeal. The execution of Allam Bani Ouda took place in front of a large crowd in Nablus.
At least two other men have been sentenced to death for collaboration this year, and Palestinian officials have said they expect more executions in the near future. Twenty-six others have death sentences pending on other charges.