Syrian president ups penalty on honor killings

09:43, January 12, 2011      

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a decree that confers a more severe sentence on those convicted of committing honor killing crime, local Damascus Press news website reported Tuesday.

The decree repealed article 548 of the Syrian Penal Code which stipulated a jail sentence of two years for those convicted of killing a relative for having illicit sex.

Women's groups had long demanded the annulment of Article 548, arguing it decriminalized honor killings, the report said.

Article 548 of the Syrian Penal Code stated that "anyone who commits an honor killing after catching his wife, or one of his ascendants, descendents, or sister, committing an act of adultery or an illegitimate sexual act could claim mitigating circumstances and benefit from a reduced sentence."

Local sources said some 200 women are killed each year in Syria in "honor killings" by their relatives who get lenient treatment under the law. The majority of the crimes occur in rural and Bedouin communities around the country.

Source: Xinhua
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