Sakineh: neither stoning, or hanging ...

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a woman sentenced to death by stoning in Iran for adultery, is still at risk of execution. We’ve just launched a web appeal on her behalf, asking people to write to Leader of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei, urging him to ensure that she is not executed by any means.

Officials in the city of Tabriz in north-west Iran, where Sakineh is still held on death row, have asked the head of Iran’s judiciary to agree that her sentence of stoning to death be converted to execution by hanging.

Amnesty is opposed to the death penalty by any method and for any crime (and in any country – take a look at our death penalty campaign page and you’ll see actions targeting the US, in case you’re about to accuse Amnesty of Iran-bashing).

We’re also worried about Sakineh’s son, Sajjad Qaderzadeh. He was summoned to “Room 37” of Tabriz’s Central Prison on Wednesday to be questioned by Ministry of Intelligence officials, who may have threatened him not to give further interviews about his mother’s case. The family lawyer has warned Amnesty off talking to him, in case it puts him at further risk.

Despite some elation here at Amnesty on Thursday when the Iranisan embassy in London issued a statement saying that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani would not be executed by stoning, things are not so simple as that.

On 10 July, the head of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights said that her case would be reviewed, although he affirmed that Iranian law permits execution by stoning.

Then on Sunday 11 July, the head of the provincial judiciary in East Azerbaijan, Malek Ezhder Sharifi, said that the stoning sentence was still in place and could be implemented at any time by a decision of the Head of the Judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani.

In short, she’s still at risk of being executed by hanging or stoning. We’ve documented other cases in Iran where a stoning has been stopped, only for it to be commuted to hanging. On a more positive note we’ve also documented many more cases where stoning has been commuted to flogging or a prison sentence which, while still unjust for something that shouldn’t be criminalised in the first place, would save Sakineh’s life.

Our appeal calls on the Iranian authorities to:

- ensure that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is not executed by stoning or any other means;
- clarify Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s current legal status, including to her son and her lawyers;
- enact legislation that bans stoning as a legal punishment and does not permit the use of other forms of the death penalty or flogging or imprisonment for those convicted of “adultery” or other crimes;
- ensure that Sajjad Qaderzadeh is not harassed in connection with his expressions of concern regarding the life of his mother.

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was convicted in May 2006 of having an “illicit relationship” with two men and received 99 lashes as her sentence. Despite this, she was then also convicted of “adultery while being married", which she has denied, and sentenced to death by stoning.


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