Al-Haq Condemns the Killing of Ahmad Halawa by Palestinian Security Forces and Calls for Accountability

Wednesday, 24 August 2016 11:30
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ahmad-halawehNablus resident Ahmad ‘Izzat Halawa, 50, was arrested by Palestinian Security on 23 August 2016 and died while in custody. Ahmad was arrested following the killing of two Palestinian security officers[1] and two “wanted” civilians[2] in Nablus on 18 August 2016.

On August 23, Gen. Al-Damiri, Palestinian Security Forces spokesperson stated, “Ahmad Halawa was arrested this morning from a relative’s house in Nablus. He was number one on the wanted list for Palestinian Security. After he was arrested, he was taken to Al-Jeneid detention center. There, he swore at the security officers. In response, the officers attacked and beat him which led to his death –even though the officers who had brought him to the detention center tried to protect him.” Al-Damiri also stated that what happened could not be justified, but the city had been in a serious state of emergency.

The killing of Ahmad Halawa is in stark violation of Palestine’s duties under international human rights law. Palestine acceded to both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), amongst other treaties. While the ICCPR does allow for derogations from the Covenant during public emergencies, the state of emergency must “threaten the life of the nation, and the State party must have officially proclaimed” the state.[3] Although Al-Damiri claim that Nablus was under a state of emergency, it is doubtful that the circumstances rose to the level envisioned by the ICCPR and procedures for proclaiming the emergency to other State Parties were not undertaken. Moreover, certain rights, including the right to life (ICCPR Article 6) and to not be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (ICCPR Article 7) may not be derogated from. 

Ahmad’s killing is in clear violation of these rights, and necessitates a “thorough, prompt, and impartial, and investigation”[4] by the relevant authorities. Further, the perpetrators should be punished “by appropriate penalties which take into account the seriousness of such offences.” [5]

Al-Haq is deeply disturbed by the killing of Ahmad Halawa and calls for:

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[1] The two officers are: Shibli Ibrahim BaniShamse, 25, from Bita, Nablus, who served with the Private Police department, and Mahmoud Muhammad Tarayra, 27, from Bani Ne’im, Hebron, who served at the National Security Forces

[2]Khaled Abd Al-NaserAghbar, 22, and Fares Abdallah Halawa, 24, both from Nablus

[3] Article 4 of the ICCPR, General Comment No. 29: Derogations during a State of Emergency, para. 2

[4] Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions, Article, Article 9, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/ArbitraryAndSummaryExecutions.aspx

[5] Id. at Article 1