Hamas lawmakers said that they approved a measure allowing public executions on Wednesday, defying the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, who had condemned the terror group’s plan earlier in the day.
Although the announcement was made by Palestinian legislators in Gaza, it is unclear how many Hamas-affiliated parliamentarians approved the executions, and what authority they had to do so. The Palestinian Legislative Council has not met since 2007, when Hamas ousted Fatah from Gaza in a bloody coup.
Hamas attorney general Ismail Jaber told journalists on Sunday that the council was the “sole legal party” authorized to make such decisions, in apparent defiance of Palestinian Authority law, which states that PA President Mahmoud Abbas must approve all executions.
The UN body had condemned Hamas’s announcement that it would publicly execute 13 men, saying that public executions violate international human rights law. It also expressed “serious doubts” over whether capital punishment trials in Gaza meet the necessary international legal standards of fairness to impose the death penalty in the first place, and noted that the executions are likely extrajudicial because Abbas did not approve them.
International Court of Justice judge James R. Crawford has written that one of the principles of statehood is that “states are exclusively competent with respect to their internal affairs.” Without the ability to impose its authority on Gaza, the Palestinian Authority seems to fail this standard to qualify for statehood.
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