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Friday, August 13, 1999 Published at 16:22 GMT 17:22 UK

World: Middle East

Jordanian 'honour killings' condemned

Jordan's male killers are not locked up for crimes of honour

A human rights organisation has called for an end to a Jordanian law which grants impunity to men who have killed female relatives in the name of defending family honour.

Human Rights Watch wrote to Jordanian Prime Minister Abdel Rauf Rawabdeh saying 11 Jordanian women had been killed by family members this year for alleged improper behaviour, which often involved sexual relationships.

The organisation said it was deeply concerned over the killings.

"Approximately 25 to 30 women are killed in Jordan each year in the name of honour and crimes of honour constitute about one third of the number of the country's homicides," HRW said.

It says women's lives are being completely devalued by existing Jordanian laws which "minimise the gravity of such crimes and allow the perpetrators to go free".

HRW criticised the Jordanian Government "for its failure to respond effectively to these crimes which amounts to a serious violation of its international human rights obligations".

Climate of impunity

Protection for these women must be improved, the organisation said.

"We are particularly concerned that the government's failures to abolish the laws allowing lenient treatment of such crimes and to punish appropriately those who commit them contribute to a climate of impunity for this form of violence against women," it said.

King Abdullah promised to amend laws which discriminate against women, following his ascension to the throne in February.

The Justice Ministry announced in July it was taking steps to abolish the laws which grant impunity for "honour killings", but it still needs to be approved by the cabinet, parliament and the king.

At present the Jordanian Government attempts to protect women threatened by their families, by locking them up in correction facilities while their attackers go free.

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