Christian Aid urges Arafat not to approve executions

 The Palestinian State Security Court has recently sentenced three suspected collaborators to death. They include Khaidar Ghanem, who was convicted of collaborating with Israel's General Security Service. Ghanem is a former employee of Israeli human rights organisation B'Tselem - also a Christian Aid partner. As is customary in the Palestinian State Security Courts' handling of such cases, Ghanem's trial lasted only about two and a half hours. His conviction was based solely on his confession. No supporting evidence was offered, and he was not given the opportunity to defend himself, as required by the principles of due process. The Palestinian State Security Court has sentenced to death 18 suspected collaborators in similar lightning trials; in two of these cases, the sentences were approved and the defendants executed. In a statement the agency said yesterday: "Capital punishment is a flagrant violation of the most fundamental right - the right to life. Furthermore, the procedures employed by the Palestinian State Security Court fail to meet the minimal standards required by international law. B'Tselem urges the President of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat, not to approve the death sentences and not to allow any further capital punishments. "Ghanem worked for B'Tselem during the ten months that preceded his arrest. B'Tselem emphasizes that if the General Security Service (GSS) indeed allowed Ghanem to work for B'Tselem while acting as an Israeli agent, it made cynical use of B'Tselem to advance GSS objectives. Such grave action endangers the lives of B'Tselem employees and human rights workers in the Occupied Territories." Christian Aid is urging the Palestinian Authority to abide by international human rights law and respect the right to life. The organisation is appealing for people to write to Yasser Arafat at, or at Palestinian Authority, Office of the President, The Beach Forum, Gaza City, Palestinian Authority, Fax: + 972 8 282 2366. Salutation: Your Excellency. Please copy any e-mails to

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