Case OPT 180809.VAW
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
‘Honour’ killing/ Risk of lenient punishment
The International Secretariat of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).
Brief description of the situation
The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, a member of the OMCT SOS-Torture Network, regarding the case of Ms. Fadia Jawdat al-Najjar, 27 years old, who was allegedly killed by her father in a matter of ‘family honour’.
According to information obtained by Al Mezan, on 24 July 2009 at around 9:30 am, Mr. Jawdat al-Najjar walked into a police station in Jabalia, Gaza Strip and confessed to having beaten his daughter, Ms. Fadia Jawdat al-Najjar, to death the day before. It is alleged that Mr. al-Najjar found out that his daughter bought a cell phone and did not pay the seller for it, promising to pay in two days. The seller informed her father and requested the money. Ms. al-Najjar’s father and brother interrogated her regarding her possession of the phone, suspecting that she bought the cell phone to speak with a man. Ms. al-Najjar was divorced and the mother of five children.
According to the same information, the police subsequently found the body of Ms. al-Najjar in her house. The forensic examination by the medical staff of the Kamal Odwan Hospital in Beit Lahyia found signs of torture all over the victim’s body as well as a fracture in her skull caused by having been hit by an iron chain. Mr. Jawdat al-Najjar and three of his sons have been arrested on the case.
Crimes against women and girls committed in the name of honour are gender-specific forms of violence that are either approved or supported by States in many parts of the world. According to the information received, since the beginning of the year to date, Ms. Fadia Jawdat al-Najjar is the 10th victim of so-called ‘honour’ killings in the OPT. OMCT is gravely concerned by the high numbers of such crimes taking place in the OPT, particularly in the Gaza Strip. Most victims of crimes committed in the name of family honour are women, who are often killed by male family members when they are suspected of having committed an offence that might endanger the family’s honour. Male relatives who commit such murders in the OPT enjoy a relative impunity for these crimes and are often sentenced to less than 3 civil years of imprisonment, serving about 2 years of the sentence. OMCT considers that such punishment is not dissuasive and fails to prevent further killings. In early 2007, there was an increase in the honour-related killings carried out by armed groups. The four such cases that occurred in early 2007 were not investigated duly.
OMCT firmly condemns these killings in the name of honour and calls upon the Government in Gaza to investigate, prosecute and punish the perpetrators with due diligence. OMCT recalls that the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, in article 4(c), affirms that States should “exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and, in accordance with national legislation, punish acts of violence against women, whether those acts are perpetrated by the State or by private persons.”
Please write to the authorities in the OPT, in particular the Government in Gaza, urging them to:
- Carry out a prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the murder of Ms. Fadia Jawdat al-Najjar, the result of which must be made public, in order to bring all those responsible before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal and apply penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;
- Ensure the protection of women and girls who are threatened with ‘honour’ crimes;
- Ensure that the right to life is strictly respected, and that the same degree of due diligence is exercised in the prevention of crimes committed in the name of honour and in the punishment of the perpetrators, as in any other case of arbitrary deprivation of the right to life;
- Guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards.
- Mr. Ismail Haneyeh, Prime Minister (Gaza Government): +970 8 288 4815
- Mr. Fathi Hammdad , Minister of Interior: +970 8 288 1994
- Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations, Route de Vernier 96, Châtelaine, Fax. +41 22 796 78 60, Email: Palestine.email@example.com
Geneva, 18 August 2009
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.