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EU, UK condemn Gaza executions

July 28, 2011 1:00 P.M. (Updated: July 29, 2011 11:59 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The European Union and UK foreign office condemned the execution of two people in Gaza on Tuesday, calling on Hamas authorities to abide by the de facto moratorium on the use of the death penalty by the Palestinian Authority.

EU representations in Jerusalem and Ramallah issued a joint statement on Wednesday urging the government in Gaza to "refrain from carrying out any further executions of prisoners ... pending abolition of the death penalty in line with the global trend."

The European body "considers capital punishment to be cruel and inhuman, failing to provide deterrence to criminal behavior," the statement said.

Also Wednesday, UK Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East and North Africa Alistair Burt highlighted "serious concerns about the application of the rule of law in Gaza."

"“I strongly condemn the execution of Muhammad and Rami Abu Ganas by Hamas in Gaza on Tuesday 26 July. The UK opposes the death penalty in all circumstances," the statement from the UK foreign office said.

"It is particularly abhorrent where it is clear that defendants have had absolutely no access to a fair trial."

"I call on Hamas to refrain from carrying out any further executions of prisoners and adhere to the Palestinian Authorities moratorium on the use of the death penalty.”

Gaza's Interior Ministry told Ma'an that two men accused of collaborating with the Israeli occupation were executed by authorities on Tuesday morning.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights strongly condemned the death sentences, saying they were illegal because the ratification of death sentences is an exclusive power of the president, Mahmoud Abbas.

Implementation of death sentences without the president's ratification "constitutes a violation of the law and constitution. There is no justification for the implementation of such sentences," the group said.

Three people have been put to death in Gaza this year and five in 2010.
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