Gaza drug traffickers risk Hamas military trials
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – The Hamas-led Military Justice Commission in the Gaza Strip announced on October 21 that 13 court rulings have been issued against drug traffickers, including a death sentence.
He told a news conference in Gaza City that the narcotics found and seized by the Anti-Narcotics Department were destroyed as part of the government’s efforts to fight drugs.
It comes as the human rights organization condemned the Hamas government for passing death sentences on Palestinians, claiming such rulings contradict the State of Palestine’s legal obligations under international conventions, including the 1989 Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. 1989 – which aims to abolish the death penalty. Palestine joined this alliance in 2018.
At the Military Justice Commission press conference, hundreds of thousands of different types of narcotics, including 197 kilograms (434 pounds) of hashish and 181 kilograms (399 pounds) of banjo and marijuana, were on display before destroy them and burn them under the supervision of committees affiliated with the military prosecutor’s office.
The head of the Military Justice Commission in the Gaza Strip, Nasser Suleiman, confirmed at the conference that the commission has put in place a package of measures to speed up the trial of those accused of drug trafficking in closed military zones. at the border.
On October 24, anti-narcotics police announced the seizure of 18 stocks of hashish and 300 narcotic pills in Rafah and al-Wusta governorates, and the arrest of two traffickers.
Mohamed Abdel Wahab, legal expert at the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, told Al-Monitor that drug trafficking and trade cases fall under the jurisdiction of civil courts because they are civil cases. .
He condemned the trial of civilians before military justice because it violates the Palestinian Basic Law, in particular article 30 which states: “Every Palestinian has the right to seek refuge in the legal system”.
Abdel Wahab pointed out that after Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, the movement enacted Military Justice Law No.3 of 2008, which allows the interior minister alone to dismiss any case before military justice, without any limitation or condition.
“The Hamas government is fundamentally violating the law it itself promulgated because there is no interior minister in its current government. The undersecretary of the ministry facilitates the work of the ministry and, therefore, [Hamas] commits a second violation, ”Abdel Wahab said.
He noted: “It is not in the powers of the Under Secretary to sign decisions to refer cases to military justice.
He stressed that political agendas are implemented under legal cover, and noted that since Yahya Sinwar was elected head of Hamas in Gaza in 2017, he has sought to deter drug traffickers and collaborators with Israel by tightening judicial sentences, in particular pronouncing death sentences.
Abdel Wahab added that the Hamas government is trying to hand down verdicts popular with the public, but these rulings have proven not to deter crimes, besides violating Palestinian law.
He pointed out that in some military justice cases the defendants’ lawyers did not attend the trial. He explained that the PLO Revolutionary Penal Code of 1979, on which military trials are based, can no longer serve as a basis today, as many of its articles do not grant the accused the right to withdraw. defend.
He also mentioned that defendants are often subjected to torture to obtain confessions, which contradicts Hamas’s claims to ensure a fair trial.
He said the Palestinian Center for Human Rights is against drug trafficking and smuggling, but judicial justice should not be circumvented under the pretext of protecting the community and deterring criminals. He said he was surprised at the commission’s remarks on approving procedures that would speed up the trial of defendants in drug trafficking cases, and expressed doubts that such procedures would give defendants sufficient rights to stand up for themselves. defend.
Ibrahim Habib, a Palestinian national security expert, told Al-Monitor that the narcotics display at the press conference was intended to show citizens the efforts of the Anti-Narcotics Department to combat the spread of the drug. drugs, rather than trying to deter drugs. dealers.
He noted that Israel is seeking to flood the Gaza Strip with drugs by bringing in drugs through a number of dealers. This is why, he explained, the government of Gaza has tightened control over goods imported into the besieged enclave and held accountable the traders who were found to be involved in the entry of these narcotics.
Ibrahim al-Madhoun, a political analyst close to Hamas, told Al-Monitor that the drug exhibition aims to educate young people and send a message to Israel that Hamas is cracking down on drugs in cooperation with the ministry. of the Interior of Gaza. .
He pointed out that Israel’s repeated attempts to flood Gaza with drugs have failed, claiming that strict penalties can deter anyone seeking to harm the Palestinian people through drugs.
Madhoun said young people use drugs due to the difficult economic situation in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli blockade, repeated wars against Gaza and high unemployment rates.