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Lebanon reforms law aimed at ‘honor crimes’

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Summary of story from Human Rights Watch, August 11, 2011

On August 4 the Lebanese government annulled one part of the criminal code that mitigated sentences for people who claim they killed their wife, daughter or relative for family “honor”.

An encouraging step.

But Human Rights Watch researcher Nadya Khalife said Lebanon’s parliament should repeal all discriminatory provisions in the penal code and adopt strong laws against gender-based violence.

“In addition to stringent laws, Lebanon should begin collecting statistics on gender-based violence, and encourage men and women to report abuse,” she added.

‘Honor killings’ are relatively rare in Lebanon — one report said 66 such crimes occurred between 1999 and 2007 — but any mitigation “perpetuated the notion that the state condoned such acts of violence when a family’s honor was allegedly tarnished by a woman who is perceived as ‘misbehaving’,” Human Rights Watch said.

Other countries in the region with such laws include Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, Yemen and the Palestinian territories.

In Egypt, one article in the penal code allows mitigated sentences in “certain circumstances”, which judges often apply in honor crimes cases.  In Jordan, courts also allow such mitigation.

“Other countries in the Arab world should follow Lebanon’s example and abolish laws that provide excuses for murder and violence,” Nadya Khalife said.

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