Loophole in Law Incentive for Honor Killing

Honor violence loophole in Palestinian penal code.
(Illustrative photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Palestinian women’s rights groups have started an initiative calling on Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to cancel a loophole in the law that allows honor killers to get off with reduced sentences reported The Times of Israel.

The PA operates largely under the Jordanian penal code. In this case, Article 99 of the code gives a judge the power to dramatically reduce sentences for crimes committing under “extenuating circumstances.”

The loophole is traditionally used for crimes of murder, assault and rape against women.

For example, if a woman is murdered by her family, then the family (who are the “defendants” in the case) can drop the charges. The judge can then declare the “lack of charges” against the killer “extenuating circumstances” and significantly reduce the sentence.

To date, Palestinian women’s groups have garnered 12,000 signatures on a petition asking Abbas to cancel the provision.

Yet, the prospect of that happening doesn’t seem likely, according to a legal a legal adviser for the Palestinian Authority’s Women’s Affairs Ministry, who contends the law is necessary to mete out justice in some cases, reported The Times of Israel.

The adviser contended the change must come at the judicial level – namely that judges must stop using the provision when dealing with honor killers.