In times of advancing globalization, people with varying concepts of honor encounter one another more and more frequently. In light of this, the project examines the significance of honor in various aspects of criminal law on the basis of reports from 14 selected countries. A cross-sectional report draws conclusions. It can be shown, for example, that there are clear differences among the criminal defamation offenses and that mitigations of punishment for honor killing are granted in only a few countries.

In times of ad­van­cing glob­al­iz­a­tion, people from dif­fer­ent coun­tries and cul­tures en­counter one an­oth­er more and more fre­quently. In the pro­cess, dif­fer­ing as­sess­ments of hu­man be­ha­vi­or be­come ap­par­ent, know­ledge of which is not only of aca­dem­ic but also of prac­tic­al sig­ni­fic­ance.

The concept "hon­or" ap­plies to an area in which dif­fer­ing ideas of­ten co­ex­ist. Hon­or and the vi­ol­a­tion there­of can play a role in nu­mer­ous areas: in the con­text of of­fenses that in­volve in­sults; in­curred or feared vi­ol­a­tions of hon­or as a motive for com­mit­ting a crime; in the con­text of the crim­in­al pro­cess; and in sen­ten­cing. There is al­most no com­par­at­ive leg­al re­search on the role of hon­or in the crim­in­al law of the coun­tries of ori­gin of the ma­jor for­eign pop­u­la­tions in Ger­many, namely, Tur­key, the suc­cessor coun­tries of the former Yugoslavia, Italy, and Spain. Rel­ev­ant re­search on more dis­tant cul­tures, such as the East Asi­an, is com­pletely lack­ing.

The pur­pose of this pro­ject is to as­cer­tain how oth­er leg­al sys­tems view the role of hon­or in their crim­in­al law. In the pro­cess, in­form­a­tion about the dif­fer­ing em­phases placed on hon­or and the vi­ol­a­tion there­of in vari­ous so­ci­et­ies is ex­pec­ted that will lead not only to new aca­dem­ic in­sights but also to the pro­mo­tion of mu­tu­al un­der­stand­ing among these so­ci­et­ies.

In this pro­ject, a total of 13 coun­try re­ports were pre­pared – mostly by ex­tern­al staff – on the fol­low­ing coun­tries: Aus­tralia, Brazil, Croa­tia, France, Ger­many, Is­rael, Italy, Ja­pan, Nor­way, Po­land, Spain, Tur­key, and the USA. An over­view of hon­or killing in the coun­tries of the Near East was also in­cluded. On the basis of these re­ports, a cross-sec­tion­al com­par­at­ive leg­al ana­lys­is was pre­pared.

Where­as on the whole the pro­tec­tion of hon­or is weak in com­mon law coun­tries, in­clud­ing the USA, a de­tailed in­stru­ment­al­ity for the pro­tec­tion of hon­or ex­ists in con­tin­ent­al European law – even if it is in­creas­ingly as­ser­ted through civil and me­dia law. The Ger­man sys­tem, with its threefold di­vi­sion in­to in­sult (Belei­di­gung), ma­li­cious gos­sip (üble Na­chrede), and de­fam­a­tion (Ver­leum­dung), is rather the ex­cep­tion. A di­cho­tom­ous sys­tem con­sist­ing of Belei­di­gung and üble Na­chrede is more typ­ic­al. In most coun­tries, know­ledge of the false­hood of an as­ser­ted mat­ter – the es­sen­tial ele­ment of Ver­leum­dung in Ger­man law – plays a role only in the de­term­in­a­tion of sen­tence. In many coun­tries, it is the im­puta­tion to an­oth­er of a de­fam­at­ory or oth­er­wise neg­at­ive fact that is the de­cis­ive ele­ment of üble Na­chrede, while the char­ac­ter­ist­ic ele­ment of Belei­di­gung is the dis­par­aging value judg­ment. A dif­fer­ent ap­proach can be found, for ex­ample, in Itali­an law: there, a find­ing of üble Na­chrede de­pends on the num­ber of per­sons the of­fend­er in­volves when vi­ol­at­ing the hon­or of a third party. Pro­tec­tion of the de­ceased and of leg­al en­tit­ies also var­ies. As far as con­tent is con­cerned, the cat­egor­ies that are viewed as a vi­ol­a­tion of hon­or are largely sim­il­ar: the claim a crime was com­mit­ted, a wrong­ful or in­de­cent ac­tion en­gaged in, or a duty culp­ably left un­ful­filled. How these ele­ments are, in fact, to be sat­is­fied strongly de­pends on each in­di­vidu­al coun­try and its pre­val­ent so­cial con­di­tions.

Hon­or killings oc­cur not only in the Near East and Tur­key but also among im­mig­rants in coun­tries such as Ger­many and Sweden. In the Near East, the sen­tences of of­fend­ers who have com­mit­ted such crimes are mit­ig­ated con­sid­er­ably, even today. In none of the oth­er coun­tries par­ti­cip­at­ing in this study is a mit­ig­ated pun­ish­ment for such an of­fend­er ac­cep­ted, even if the leg­al in­stru­ment­al­ity would per­mit it.

In crim­in­al pro­ced­ure, the reg­u­la­tions that can be re­garded as pro­tect­ive of hon­or are re­l­at­ively sim­il­ar. Some stem from the pre­sump­tion of in­no­cence; oth­ers pro­tect the pri­vacy of de­fend­ants or wit­nesses. Aside from spe­cial cases where the pub­lic­a­tion of the judg­ment is pos­sible, pun­ish­ments with a (po­ten­tially) sham­ing ef­fect are no longer im­posed – with one ex­cep­tion: in the USA, so-called "sham­ing sanc­tions" are be­ing im­posed more and more fre­quently.

Coun­try Re­port­ers

Aus­tralia: Dr. Greg Taylor; Brazil: Fauzi Has­san Choukr; Ger­many: Dr. Thomas Winter; France: Dr. Xavi­er Pin (coun­try re­port in French); Is­rael: Dr. Khal­id Ghanay­im; Italy: Prof. Dr. Gi­ulio de Si­mone, Stefano de Francesco; Ja­pan: Prof. Dr. Mit­su­masa Mat­suo; Croa­tia: Dr. Ig­or Bojan­ić; Nor­way: Bjørn­ar Bornik (coun­try re­port in Eng­lish); Po­land: Dr. Ewa Wei­gend, Prof. Dr. Ele­onora Zielińska; Spain: Prof. Dr. En­rique Baci­ga­lupo, Teresa Manso Porto; Tur­key: Dr. Silvia Tel­l­en­bach; USA: Prof. Dr. Ca­m­ille Nel­son (coun­try re­port in Eng­lish).