In the public debate the most strict punishments are called for so-called honor murder. Tor Erling Staff (lawyer at the supreme court) is, on the contrary, quite clear that honor must be an extenuating circumstance when giving out sentences.
Staff thinks that Norwegian society has betrayed men from other cultures who had come to Norway.
In a book published this week, Staff says that those who commit honor murder in Norway should get a reduction in sentence. If two people are sentenced for murder that according to the law should be punished in the same manner, Tor Erling Staff thinks that the person who can show that he killed his wife on ground of honor, should get a lighter sentence.
Staff says that if a murderer should get 17 years in prison, a man who murdered his wife on the grounds of his family's honor should get two years reduction.
Staff says that many who have come to Norway have other traditions, attitudes, ethics and experiences of their duties and rights. Norwegian courts have decided not to take that into consideration.
In the 80's Staff had a murder case in Drammen where the Eidsivating court took into account when deciding on a sentence that the murderer was from another cultural tradition. Staff says that was the last time he had seen a Norwegian court take that into account when deciding on sentencing.
Q: Do you really think that a man of foreign origin who kills his wife should be sentenced to a shorter sentence than an ethnic Norwegian who kills his wife?
A :It is important to understand why a murder took place. We can't neglect to pay attention as to why. It can be fairly revealing that the crime happened because the way of thinking and duties are different for people of other cultures. Therefore tradition and cultural background should be taken into account.
In the book "of law, life and death" - co-written by author Håvard Rem - Staff gets the following question: Do you mean that in the most extreme consequence a wife's murder will be considered an expression of lack of integration and existence of integrity?
Staff answered that he does. He says the crisis centers are like a fortress which gives protection and security, but they are themselves part of the reason for this necessity. Outside the fortress there are always people who feel betrayed.
They are betrayed by Norwegian Society, says Staff to Dagbladet. They come from places where equality is an unknown concept. Where the thought of eqality is a humilitaion. Suddenly they land here, in the middle of equality paradise. It is clear there is stress, and this stress gets to a breaking point. Society wants them to integrate. That they get around to the Norwegian way of thinking and turn away from their own way of thinking, he says in his book.
Staff thinks that there is a clear tendency for Norwegian courts try to ignore the concept of honor murder. He says he feels criminal care attempts to define away the concept of honor murder and that it's important for the courts to take a position on it.
Q: Does this mean that you think Norwegian courts don't take honor murder into account?
A: When they don't take into account the murder's tradition, cultural, ethics, experience of duties and rights, it's wrong. The court must know why. It seems to me that society and the courts are completely uninterested in finding out the cause for the crime.
The lawyer thinks Norwegian society is characterized by self-righteousness and that we don't understand other cultures and ways of thinking.
Staff: Everything we Norwegians stand for is so damned god. We aren't interested in other cultures' ways of thought. Norwegians are morally condemning, and we are characterized by that the whole society rejects actions and doesn't try to understand why honor murder happens. I really think we are awfully self-righteous.
Q: Isn't honor murder a premediated act that should be punished more stricly than other murders that aren't planned?
A: I don't percieve honor murder as a premeditated crime.
Q: Aren't you afraid that there will be more murders if the courts give a sentence reduction for honor murder?
A: No! This revolves around justice. Therefore we must know why a murder took place and if the reason is honor, it must have meaning for giving out punishment
In his new book Staff also attacks Norwegian crisis centers, saying they accept only one party in a two-sided situation. They enable a woman to escape regardless and thereby always provide a temptation. He says that a main reason for the criminality in today's Norway is that the father is kept away from the children.
Source: Dagbladet (Norwegian)