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National plan of action to prevent and punish “honour” crimes

  • Drafters should consider developing a comprehensive national plan of action to combat “honour” crimes. Guidance can be found in the Beijing Platform for Action, from the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women, which calls upon states to promulgate national plans of action for the advancement and empowerment of women. The Beijing Platform for Action recommends involving broad participation in the plan by national bodies that work on the advancement of women, the private sector, and other relevant institutions, including “legislative bodies, academic and research institutions, professional associations, trade unions, cooperatives, local community groups, non-governmental organizations, including women’s organizations and feminist groups, the media, religious groups, youth organizations and cultural groups, as well as financial and non-profit organizations” (¶¶ 294-95). The Platform also emphasizes the importance of involving actors at the highest political levels, ensuring appropriate staffing and protocols are in place within ministries, having stakeholders review their goals, programs, and procedures within the framework of the plan, and engaging the media and public education to promote awareness of the plan (¶ 296). The plan should also address the roles and responsibilities of actors charged with implementing the plan. In this case, drafters should seek to engage and charge a wide range of actors as machinery for implementation. Relevant institutions include police, prosecutors, the judiciary, social services, children’s and juvenile authorities, equal opportunities offices, crime victim units, education, public health, prison and probationary authorities, disability agencies, administrative boards, immigration bureaus, cultural, religious, immigrant and ethnic community liaison offices, welfare, housing, religious groups, customary and local officials, offices working on issues related to women and girls, and civil society. Drafters should ensure that national plans provide for adequate funding and dedicated personnel resources to effectively implement the strategies outlined in the plans, including specifically identifying the amount and source of such funding.
  • National plans are a useful tool for ensuring a coordinated, multidisciplinary, and holistic response to “honour” crimes across various sectors and geographic regions of a country. Recognizing the importance of such a coordinated, multisectoral approach, the Updated Model Strategies and Practical Measures on the Elimination of Violence against Women in the Field of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice urges U.N. member states to provide a “comprehensive, coordinated, systematic and sustained” approach to combating violence against women and to “promote the involvement and participation of all relevant sectors of government and civil society and other stakeholders in the implementation process.” (See: Resolution Adopted by the General Assembly, Strengthening Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Responses to Violence against Women, U.N. Doc. A/Res/65/228, 2011, Annex: Updated Model Strategies and Practical Measures on the Elimination of Violence against Women in the Field of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice – General Principles) A national plan should delineate clear roles and responsibilities for the various actors involved in the plan’s implementation. 
  • The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence emphasizes the importance of developing a comprehensive, multisectoral response to violence against women, including “honour” crimes (Article 7). Article 7 of the Convention calls on parties to “offer a holistic response to violence against women” by developing coordinated policies that “are implemented by way of effective co-operation among all relevant agencies, institutions, and organisations.”   
  • National plans and legislation addressing “honour” crimes should establish an official body (or designate an existing body) responsible for coordinating the implementation of such legislation and/or plan. A national plan should include concrete, measurable goals and timelines for achieving those goals.
  • An independent body with representatives from civil society organizations should be created to oversee and monitor the implementation of the national plan. Engaging with and allowing active participation by civil society organizations is key to achieving successful implementation of a national plan to combat “honour” crimes.  National plans should give civil society organizations a leadership role in spearheading coordination among the various sectors involved in responding to “honour” crimes. 
  • Drafters should also refer to the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers draft strategy against “honour” crimes, which the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly has asked the Committee of Ministers to preapre, for guidance. The strategy aims to eliminate all forms of legislative justifications for mitigating or absolving criminal accountability for perpetrators who commit “honour” crimes, reiterates that no religion supports “honour” crimes, seeks to eradicate societal attitudes that condone “honour” crimes, provides for research to identify and address the root causes of "honour crimes", and supports the establishment of an international network dedicated to combating “honour” crimes. (See: The urgent need to combat so-called “honour crimes,” Council of Europe Recommendation 1881, 2009, ¶ 2)
  • Drafters should mainstream women and girls’ human rights across diverse agency policies. They should ensure that other national development plans and poverty reduction strategies incorporate the relevant human rights standards related to women and girls into such programming and budgets. (See: Theme: Addressing Gender Equality: A Persistent Challenge for Africa, Joint AU/ECA Conference of Ministers of Gender and Women’s Affairs, Aug. 25-29, 2008, p. 3)

Promising Practices:

Jordan has established units in government departments to protect women and children. Its social services bureau monitors cases, provides legal advice to women victims or women at-risk, and assists in victims’ reintegration. (See: U.N. Doc. A/57/169, p. 5)

Sweden has developed an Action Plan for Combating Men’s Violence against Women, Violence and Oppression in the Name of Honour and Violence in Same-sex Relationships. The plan focuses on six main strategies:

  • increased protection and support to victims of violence
  • greater emphasis on preventive work
  • higher standards and greater efficiency in the judicial system
  • better measures targeting violent offenders
  • increased cooperation and coordination
  • enhanced knowledge and competence

It outlines several measures pertaining to each of the six strategies. In developing the plan, the Swedish Government adopted an overarching policy approach that uses a victim-centered approach and draws upon research. Its policy “overrid[es] ministry and agency lines, with the perspective of those at risk as the point of departure and based on the knowledge available on the areas concerned.”