On April 11th the BBC News website published an article titled “Death penalty: Global executions fall 37% since 2015 – Amnesty” which is little more than a rehashed version of the press release put out by Amnesty International on the same day to launch its annual report on the subject of judicial executions.
In that article, BBC audiences find the following paragraph:
“Meanwhile, Belarus and authorities within the Palestinian territories resumed executions in 2016 after a year’s hiatus, while Botswana and Nigeria carried out their first executions since 2013.” [emphasis added]
Who exactly are those “authorities within the Palestinian territories” and how did that odd and confusing phrase come to be included in the BBC’s report? The answer to the latter question is found in the AI press release which states:
“Belarus, Botswana, Nigeria and authorities within the State of Palestine resumed executions in 2016…” [emphasis added]
One has to search out the full AI report (which is not linked in the BBC’s article) in order to learn that those “authorities” are not – as readers may understandably have concluded – the Palestinian Authority but in fact the terror group that violently seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 and that the executions it carries out are in breach of PA law.
“Three executions were carried out in Palestine (State of). Mohammed Fathi Mohammed Othman, Yousef Mohammed Abu Shamleh and Ahmad Helmi Abdel Qader Sharab were executed on 31 May 2016 by the Hamas de facto administration in the Gaza Strip; the executions were carried out without the ratification of the death sentences by the Palestinian President, contrary to the Palestinian Basic Law of 2003 and the 2001 Penal Procedure Law. Amnesty International recorded 21 death sentences, all in the Gaza Strip. There were 12 death sentences issued by military courts and nine by civilian courts. At least 21 people were under sentence of death at the end of 2016.”
As we see, the BBC edited the information it took from the AI press release; according to its ‘style guide’ the corporation does not generally use the term ‘State of Palestine’ and so that terminology was replaced with “Palestinian territories”. BBC audiences would obviously have benefited had editing also included replacement of the euphemistic and unhelpful phrase “authorities within” with clear identification of the group responsible for those executions.