9th Circuit Blocks Removal of Woman Facing ‘Honor Killing’

(CN) – A Jordanian woman convinced a Ninth Circuit panel that she would likely face an “honor killing” by her family or estranged husband if she returned home, with the panel finding the most recent data indicates the practice is still commonplace in the Muslim-majority nation.

Iman Khalil Suradi appealed to the Ninth Circuit after the Board of Immigration Appeals denied her application for deferral of removal.

But an immigration judge concluded “the government of Jordan actively intervenes to protect potential victims of honor killings,” and the appeals board agreed.

Suradi claimed she would likely be killed by her family or estranged husband if she returned to Jordan.

In an unpublished opinion issued July 14, the Ninth Circuit panel concluded it was more likely than not that Suradi would be killed, and granted her petition to defer.

The immigration judge and appeals board both ignored Suradi’s testimony that she had reported her husband’s abuse to police and the mayor of Amman, Jordan, the panel found. They also ignored reports suggesting that problem of honor killings in Jordan has not improved.

The panel consisted of Chief Circuit Judge Sidney Thomas, Circuit Judge Mary Murguia and District Judge Michael Baylson of Pennsylvania’s Eastern District, sitting by designation. They granted Suradi’s petition and remanded the case for further review.

Friday’s ruling is the second time the Ninth Circuit has taken up Suradi’s case and made similar findings. In 2011, the panel ordered the immigration judge to use the most current information regarding honor killings and women’s conditions in Jordan.

This time, the panel said the judge and appeals board ignored reports and Suradi’s “credible testimony” as to the situation in Jordan and what Suardi would face if she was forced to return.

Last December, Jordan’s Iftaa department, a government agency that issues religious edicts, declared that honor killings go against Islamic law.

“Anyone who commits such a crime should be held accountable and should not get a reduced sentence if the victim was a relative or if he/she bases the murder on suspicions,” the fatwa said.

The decision was praised by human-rights activists in Jordan, and may have been spurred by reports that honor killings increased in 2016.

Human Rights Watch estimates that around 20 Jordanian women and girls are killed by family members each year for adultery and other transgressions.

Earlier this year, Jordan’s highest court increased the sentence for two men who poisoned their sister after she had left the family home. They then staged the death as a suicide.

“We want to send a strong message to the people that killing women in the name of family honor will no longer be tolerated by our court,” Judge Mohammad Tarawneh of the Cassation Court said.


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