Presidential Decree Increases Penalty for Honor Killings in Syria
Wednesday, July 22, 2009 1:21 PM

A presidential decree by Syria’s president Bashar Assad made a minor yet important change in Article 548 of the Syrian Penal Code, which now forces "honor" killers (men who have murdered female relatives they consider to have tainted the family’s moral reputation) to serve at least two years in prison. According to sources from the Association for Women's Rights in Development, the decree now states, "He who catches his wife, or one of his ascendants, descendents or sister committing adultery (flagrante delicto) or illegitimate sex acts with another and he kills or injures one or both of them, either deliberately or non-deliberately, then the penalty for this should be a prisoner sentence of no less than two years in the case of murder." While Article 548 was modified, Article 192, which lets judges lessen the punishment for any crime motivated by "honor," is still intact.

Human rights advocates argue for a more fundamental change in the law, which still operates under the premise that it is acceptable to kill for "honor."

The United Nations Population Fund estimates that 5,000 women a year across the world are victims of honor killings.

Compiled from: The Law changes. Will attitudes?, The Economist, Middle East & Africa (16 July 2009) ; Asharq Alawsat, Syria Increases Penalty for Honour Killings, Association for Women's Rights in Development (7 July 2009)