The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the killing of M. A. by one of her relatives in Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza City on Friday, 23 December 2011, to “maintain family honor.” PCHR calls for bringing the perpetrators of such type of crimes to justice and for taking necessary legal action to put an end to this type of crimes.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 02:30 on Friday 23 December 2011, the body of M. A., 45, from Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, who was killed by strangulation, was brought to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. According to the Forensic Medicine Department, M. A. was killed by strangulation using hands. According to Chief Ayman al-Batniji, Spokesman of the Palestinian Police, the victim’s nephew, who is accused of committing the crime, turned himself in to the police. During interrogation, he said that he killed M. A. to “maintain his family’s honor.” Investigations are still ongoing.
The year 2011 witnessed a clear improvement with respect to steps taken to put an end to violence practiced by the local community, particularly crimes committed to maintain “family honor.” On 15 May 2011, President Mahmoud Abbas issued a decree with power of law, which would abolish the eased sentences issued against the crimes committed to maintain “family honor.” Under this decision, article 340 of Chapter I/Part VIII of the Jordanian Penal Code No. 16 of 1960, applicable in the West Bank, was abolished. The decision also stipulated the amendment of article 18 of the Palestinian Penal Code No. 74 of 1936, applicable in the Gaza Strip, as the phrase “that does not include crimes committed against women to maintain ‘family honor’” was added at the end of the article.
PCHR hopes that this decree would be a step towards the elimination of these crimes, as those who commit these crimes enjoyed the immunity granted to them through the issuing of eased sentences against them (maximum of 24 months imprisonment). As a result, this phenomenon has been prevalent in the Palestinian society and has resulted in opening the door for undermining the principle of the rule of law.
PCHR strongly condemns this crime and:
- Calls for serious investigations into the death of M. A. and for bringing the perpetrators before justice;
- PCHR calls for prosecuting perpetrators of “family honor” murders. These murders must be dealt with in the same manner as other crimes of willful killing, taking into consideration international human rights standards.