SOAS University of London

Centre of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law

Lebanon - The Lebanese Council to Eliminate Violence Against Women

The Lebanese Council to Eliminate Violence Against Women works on the range of manifestations of violence against women in Lebanon, including 'honour crimes' and 'honour killings.' Set up in March 1997, it includes staffers and teams of volunteers, comprising social workers, lawyers and scholars. In May 2001, the Council convened a national congress on 'crimes of honour', at which a general plan of action regarding 'crimes of honour' was agreed, comprising three elements: a legal study, awareness raising, and an information campaign on the aims of the congress on 'crimes of honour.' Within the framework of cooperation with the CIMEL/INTERIGHTS 'Crimes of Honour' project, the Council will commence work on the first of these elements, the legal study.

The study aims to uncover the extent to which perpetrators rely on the pretext of 'crimes of honour' to seek lighter sentences than they would receive if convicted of deliberate and intentional murder, and the attitude of the courts towards them. The Lebanese judiciary rarely if ever rely on the specific article of the Penal Code (592) which, after being amended in 1999, now provides for a reduction in sentence rather than as previously providing for no penalty to be imposed in certain circumstances. Other articles are however applied to reduce sentences in cases of 'honour killings', including 252 and 193.

The study will build on two earlier studies carried out in the Lebanese courts (one examining cases from the 1960s, other from the 1980s) by bringing the documentation and analysis up to date, reviewing all cases from 1999 to the present day, to allow for an examination of any changes that may have occurred, as well as for an assessment of the situation since the change in the law. In addition, the use of case files, rather than only court records, will permit an in-depth examination of the cases, with a specific view to looking more closely at the background social issues. This data and analysis will be used in the consideration by the Council of ongoing and future advocacy objectives and of focal points that may be raised in dialogue with members of the judiciary. It will also furnish material for the other elements of the Council's work on 'crimes of honour' (awareness-raising, information campaign etc).

The Council has presented a paper at the CIMEL/INTERIGHTS international meeting in February 2002 giving an overview and analyses of the results achieved to that point, incorporating the results of the work so far. The final paper will be available for publication in the CIMEL/INTERIGHTS conference publication (for abstract see Publication).