Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] (HRW) on Tuesday called on Hamas [JURIST news archive] authorities in the Gaza Strip to halt all executions, especially those of child offenders. HRW is especially concerned [HRW report] with the specific case of Hani Abu Aliyan, an adult prisoner sentenced to death for the murder of a peer while he was a minor. Aliyan was convicted using a confession he alleges was produced under torture. Joe Stork, acting Middle East director at HRW, reflected on the precedent that such an execution would establish, "Imposing the death penalty for a crime committed by a child makes the executions under Gaza's abusive justice system especially atrocious. ... If the authorities want to deter criminals, they should make sure people are convicted for what they did, not what they are tortured to confess." Israel Jaber, the prosecutor general for Hamas in the Gaza Strip, has defended the court system, insisting that torture does not occur and that all convictions are the result of due process.
These anticipated executions have been the source of international concern since their announcement last week. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged [JURIST report] Hamas not to go through with the executions. The UN Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories [official website] in June called on Israel [statement] to end its blockade of the Gaza Strip. Israel's policy in the Gaza Strip has been a subject of controversy [JURIST report].