In a press conference he held in his office on Saturday, 27 November 2004, Brigadier Rashid Abu Shebak, the head of the Palestinian Authority Preventive Security Service in the Gaza Strip, announced the disbandment of the Security and Protection Department, known locally as the “Death Squad,” and stated that its members would be reassigned to various departments of the security service. PCHR welcomes this announcement, but believes it is not enough to restore order, ensure the safety and security of people and enforce the rule of law.
Recently, the Palestinian internal security situation has seriously deteriorated due to the misuse of weapons, the absence of the rule of law and taking the law in one’s own hands, especially by law enforcement officials or other parties linked with the Palestinian Authority. PCHR has documented dozens of crimes perpetrated by persons linked with Palestinian security services, including members of the “Death Squad.”
According to information available to PCHR, a number of members of the squad were sentenced to death or imprisonment for crimes they had committed in the past years, but these sentences have not been implemented.
PCHR believes that in order to ensure respect for the rule of law the PA must implement these sentences. However PCHR is completely opposed to the implementation of the death penalty, which is in breach of international human rights law, and calls instead for those sentenced to death to be given mandatory life sentences in jail.
The disbandment of the “Death Squad” is positive, but not enough; the Palestinian Authority should take other measures to end the state of security chaos, misuse of weapons and militarization of the Palestinian society. PCHR calls for: Conducting a fair and transparent investigation in the crimes allegedly committed by members of the squad and other persons, including murders, bringing those found guilty to justice and ensuring their dismissal from the Preventive Security Service or any other security service; Promulgating laws and rules that govern activities of the security services to ensure their subjugation to the political authority and acting as law enforcement bodies and respecting sentences, with the exception of the death penalty (which should be commuted to life imprisonment) issued by Palestinian courts to ensure the rule of law and equality before the law.