20 June 2005 :

“The Commission, in conjunction with the Presidency of the European Union, has raised this matter [of the death penalty] with the Palestinian Authority, and has transmitted a message of serious concern at the prospect of a resumption of executions. It has also called on the Palestinian Authority not to ratify or carry out any death sentences.” The declaration was made on behalf of the Commission by Mrs. Ferrero-Waldner in reply to a written question deposited by MEPs Marco Pannella (ALDE) and Emma Bonino (ALDE) on the “Reintroduction of the death penalty by Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority”. Panella and Bonino asked the Commission if they were aware that the President of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, had authorised the execution of three Palestinians, whose identity was not made known, found guilty of helping Israel to carry out ‘targeted assassinations’ of Palestinian activists in the Gaza Strip. The news had been  reported by the Jerusalem Post on 16 February 2005 quoting Sakher Bsaisso, high representative of Fatah and the Authority’s governor of the northern Gaza Strip. According to the newspaper, since he was elected, Mahmoud Abbas has approved dozens of death sentences, some of them against Palestinians found guilty of common murder. The written question states that on 25 February 2005 the Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Ikrima
Sabri, confirmed to Reuters that 16 people had been condemned to death after Mahmoud Abbas had been called upon to decide their fate.
On 3 March 2005 the Mufti confirmed to the BBC that that he had approved the death sentences on five prisoners. The Europparlamentarians asked the Commission whether it did not consider that to submit to a religious authority a decision coming under civil power constituted a violation of the principles of a constitutional state. In reply, “the Commission, notes that the Palestinian Authority is preparing a draft Consitution and has consulted civil society organizations and the Palestinian population on the need for balance between the role of religion and the constitutional principles of a democratic and independent Palestinian state as laid out in the Quartet Roadmap.
In the context of the European Neighbourhood Policy, the European Union has recently concluded a Joint Action Plan with the Palestinian Authority which contains a special chapter on human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Commission’s financial assistance programme is subject to a number of conditions relating to the strengthening of good governance within the Palestinian Authority. In the context of the European
Initiative on Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), the Commission has recently isssued a call for proposals to civil society organizations for awareness-raising measures advocating the abolition of the death penalty.
The Commission will continue efforts to ensure the respect of basic rights and basic civil liberties.”

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