At 9:45am on Tuesday, 18 September 2018, R.S., 42, was strangled to death by her father in their house in central Khan Younis. Police arrived at the location of the incident and launched an investigation into the killing, referring the victim’s dead body for forensic assessment. According to the police statement, R.S. was found dead in the house after her 70-year-old father strangled her; the father has since been arrested and is under investigation.
In light of this incident, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights stresses the need to:
-1- Enforce the presidential decree of 15 May 2011, which was suspends Article 340 of the Penal Code No. 16 of 1960. Article 40, which is in force in the West Bank (referred to as the ‘northern Palestinian governorates’), has long provided mitigating circumstances to perpetuators who commit acts of murder against women in the name of so-called ‘family honor’,
-2- Modify the text of Article 18 of the Penal Code No. 74 of 1936 by excluding the murder of women on the basis of ‘family honor’. The current text of this Article shields perpetuators and helps them benefit from the mitigating circumstances listed in the text. The Penal Code is in force in the Gaza Strip (referred to as the ‘southern Palestinian governorates’; and
-3- Modify the text of Article 98 of the Penal Code No. 16 of 1960 excluding perpetuators who murder women on the grounds of ‘family honor’. This modification is pursuant to provisions of Law No. 10, which was issued on 11 May 2014 in response to increasing crimes against women on the basis of ‘honor’.
Ongoing documentation by Al Mezan shows that since 2004, 146 Palestinian women have been killed in incidents of internal violence. Fifty-one of them were murdered in so-called ‘defense of family honor’, a defense claimed by perpetuators to invoke mitigating circumstances and, therefore, lesser penalties. Legal measures that enable perpetrators of ‘family honor’ murders to circumvent genuine justice do not adhere to international human rights law and are not compatible with the body of domestic law on murder.
Al Mezan condemns the murder of R.S. and warns that continued rewarding of ‘family honor’ murderers with reduced sentences contributes to an environment in which they are encouraged and emboldened to commit such murder, and has increased women’s vulnerability to killing and harm.
Al Mezan urges competent authorities to investigate the latest murder thoroughly and to ignore fallacious considerations in holding the perpetuator to account. Al Mezan calls for the pursuit of a full process of law in order to deter the murder of women. Under Palestine’s memberships to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, local authorities are obligated to deal with acts of murder of women as serious crimes.s