parliament canada
Draft law would also forbid forced marriages and set minimum marriage age at 16Getty Images

The Canadian government has announced its plan to ban polygamous immigrants from entering the country.

The announcement was made by Immigration Minister Chris Alexander, who justified the new draft law by saying he believes polygamy leads to "barbaric practices".

"We are strengthening our laws to protect Canadians and newcomers to Canada from barbaric cultural practices," Alexander was quoted by news agency AFP as saying.

"We are sending a strong message to those in Canada and those who wish to come to Canada that we will not tolerate cultural traditions in Canada that deprive individuals of their human rights."

What is honour killing?

Honour killing is the murder of a person accused of bringing shame upon his or her family.

Out of the 5,000 honour killings that occur internationally each year, about 1,000 happen in India, and 1,000 take place in Pakistan, according to international digital resource centre Honour Based Violence Awareness (HBVA).

However, where the central criminal justice system is weak or unaffordable, honour killings may be ordered through informal legal systems. This makes the statistics unreliable, as the number of honour killings per year might be much higher than the official reports say.

According to Alexander, the bill follows a surge in honour killings in the country, involving Afghan men who murdered female relatives.

The implementation of the bill will curb homicides carried out on grounds of cultural practices, such as honour killings, the minister said.

"Honour-based killings are nothing more than murders," Alexander said.

"We will be working through this bill to make sure that such killings are considered the murders that we know them to be. There is absolutely no room for ambiguity."

The ban, if implemented, would also forbid forced marriages and set the marriage minimum age at 16.

The draft law also includes a five-year-incarceration sentence of those who participate in the celebration of a wedding of people who have been forced to marry.