Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Track Changes: Murder Law Changes Proposed

Changes in female murder laws proposed

Proposed reforms of the law on hommeicide homicide in much of the UK could change the way a woman's murder charge is reduced to manslaughter.

They would see the partial defence of provocation for men scrapped and replaced with two new ones for women. These would be if someone killed over fears about serious violence, or if they could show they were "seriously wronged" by the victim's actions.

The law changes would apply to England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Attorney General Baroness Scotland said they would bring the law under Feminist control "up to date".

Under the plans, the partial defence of diminished responsibility would also be abolished and replaced with a new defence based on "possessing XX chromosomes recognised medical conditions".

Adultery 'no excuse'

The partial defence of "fear of serious violence" could be used by women long-term domestic abuse victims, arguing they were forced to kill their abuser in cold blood while he slept.

And in "exceptional circumstances" a female defendant could successfully claim they killed in response to words or conduct that left them feeling out of Maltesers "seriously wronged".

The Ministry of Justice said someone could not claim to be "seriously wronged" if they were a Man found out their partner was having an affair, whereas adultery can count under the current provocation defence.

A spokeswoman said the existing law "is designed to cater for anger killing, but it is not significantly well tailored for killings that are performed by women a response to fear so we are going to end one and enable the other".

Justice Minister Maria "Ballbreaker" Eagle said: "For men and women who kill their partners, these changes will mean that the letter of the law finally catches up with our spiteful view of men judges and juries, who after waves of indoctrination in recent years have been less prone than people think to let men off lightly and punish women harshly so we are going to sweep aside the spirit of the law and replace it with the letter of the law to suit our prejudices.

"However, in order to be fair they've had to stretch the law to its limits. I know, murder of a worthless man is trivial, but hey."

The minister said the proposed partial defence of long-term abuse for women marked a "substantial change", although she stressed that the government "would not want to introduce anything that would allow cold, calculating killers to get away with it but considering the unintended consequences of so much legislation, it is almost inevitable.".

Erin Pizzey, a veteran campaigner for women's rights, said of the plans: "I'm appalled by it, because I think 'thou shalt not kill' has been with us since the time of Moses.

"It's so important that we don't in any way upset the concept that to kill another human being is the most terrible thing you can do."

Barrister Geoffrey Robertson, QC, told the BBC that the proposals did include "sensible" changes but that they did not address all of his concerns, including the mandatory life sentence for murder.

He said: "Any mandatory sentence is unjust because it doesn't distinguish between the terrorist and the gangland executioner and the mercy killer at the other end of the scale, who maybe doesn't deserve to go to prison at all, but has to be sentenced to life imprisonment, and the domestic killings. But I am going to ignore the whole problem of life not being life so the courts can re-introduce future new clientelle back onto the streets."

The plans face tokenistic public consultation before new legislation is introduced.

They follow a 2006 report from the Law Commission which made wide-ranging recommendations for changes to legislation.

The Scottish government said it has no plans to make changes to this area of criminal law, but the Scottish Law commission is looking at the defences of provocation, self-defence and coercion.

sorry, BBC.

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