Friday, November 5, 2021

Why are drug cases being tried in military courts in Gaza?

Al-Monitor reports here on a string of cases in which civilians accused of drug dealing in Gaza have been prosecuted in military courts. Excerpt:

Mohamed Abdel Wahab, legal expert at the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, told Al-Monitor that drug trafficking and trade cases fall under the civil courts’ jurisdiction, because they consist of civil cases.

He condemned the trial of civilians before the military justice as it violates the Palestinian Basic Law, specifically Article 30 that states, “Each Palestinian shall have the right to find sanctuary in the legal system.”

Abdel Wahab pointed out that after Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, the movement issued Military Justice Law No. 3 of 2008, which allows the interior minister alone to refer any case to the military justice, without any limitations or conditions.

“The Hamas government is basically violating the law it itself issued, because there is no interior minister in its current government. The ministry’s undersecretary is facilitating the work of the ministry, and therefore [Hamas] is committing a second violation,” Abdel Wahab said.

He noted, “It is not within the powers of the undersecretary to sign decisions to refer cases to the military justice.”

Human rights jurisprudence strongly disfavor the trial of civilians by military courts. Other countries than regularly violate this norm include Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, and Uganda. 

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