Bill Calls for Cultural Sensitivity in Sentencing

Immigrants and foreigners convicted of crimes that would not be considered crimes in their own culture should be given lighter sentences, according to a bill submitted yesterday by MK Shlomo Molla (Kadima).

Molla, who was born in Ethiopia, cited child marriage and hitting one's children, which are both accepted behavior in Ethiopia, as examples of such crimes. He almost mentioned soft drugs, which are legal in Holland, and hunting pets for food, which is acceptable in Thailand.

The bill's current language indicates that it would also apply to native minorities with unique cultures, such as the Bedouin. However, Molla insisted that his intent was for the law to apply only to people who grew up in a different country with a different culture.

"Sensitivity, flexibility and humanity are necessary in order to ensure dignified treatment of tribal customs," Molla wrote in the bill's introduction, noting that countries such as Canada and Australia already take cultural norms into consideration during sentencing.

"Israel, as a country that absorbs immigrants from various groups and cultures, cannot ignore this issue," he added.