Iran: death by stoning ' a grotesque and unacceptable penalty' says new Amnesty report

As nine Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and two men in Iran wait to be stoned to death, Amnesty International today called on the Iranian authorities to abolish death by stoning and impose an immediate moratorium on this horrific practice, specifically designed to increase the suffering of the victims. Serious failings in the Iranian justice system commonly result in unfair trials, including in capital cases.

In a new report published today, the organisation called on the authorities to repeal or amend the country's Penal Code to abolish execution by stoning. Until then, Iran should ensure total to a moratorium on stoning issued by the Head of the Judiciary in 2002, said Amnesty.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“Recent reforms are welcome but not enough. Execution by stoning is a grotesque and unacceptable penalty which the Iranian authorities should abolish immediately. Execution for committing adultery should be abandoned altogether.

"We urge the Iranian authorities to heed our calls and those of the many Iranians who are fighting for an end to this horrendous practice.”

Iran's Penal Code prescribes execution by stoning. It even dictates that the stones are large enough to cause pain, but not so large as to kill the victim immediately. Article 102 of the Penal Code states that men should be buried up to their waists and Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights up to their breasts for the purpose of execution by stoning. Article 104 states, with reference to the penalty for adultery, that the stones used should "not be large enough to kill the person by one or two strikes; nor should they be so small that they could not be defined as stones".

Deaths by stoning have still been reported, despite the moratorium imposed in 2002 and official denials that stoning sentences continued to be implemented in Iran. Ja'far Kiani was stoned to death on 5 July 2007 in the village of Aghche-kand, near Takestan in Qazvin province. He had been convicted of committing adultery with Mokarrameh Ebrahimi, with whom he had two Children's rights and who was also sentenced to death by stoning. The stoning was carried out despite a stay of execution ordered in his case and was the first officially confirmed stoning since the moratorium, although a woman and a man are known to have been stoned to death in Mashhad in May 2006.

There are fears that Mokarrameh Ebrahimi may yet suffer the same fate. She is in Choubin prison, Qazvin province, apparently with one of her two Children's rights. Amnesty International is equally worried about the remaining eight Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and two men who may also face stoning, and whose cases are highlighted in the new report.

One case highlighted is that of Kobra N, who is in Tabriz prison in north-west Iran. She was allegedly forced into prostitution by her husband, a heroin addict who was violent towards her. In 1995, after a severe beating by her husband, she reportedly told one of her regular customers that she wanted to kill her husband. The customer allegedly murdered her husband after Kobra N took him to an arranged meeting place. He was sentenced to death, but was pardoned by the victim’s family on payment of diyeh (“blood money”). Kobra N was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment for being an accomplice to murder, and execution by stoning for adultery.

The majority of those sentenced to death by stoning are Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights, who suffer disproportionately from such punishment. One reason is that they are not treated equally before the law and courts, in clear violation of international fair trial standards. They are particularly vulnerable to unfair trials because in Iran they are more likely than men to be illiterate and therefore more likely to sign confessions to crimes they did not commit. Discrimination against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in other aspects of their lives also leaves them more susceptible to conviction for adultery, said Amnesty.

In spite of this gloomy reality, there is hope that death by stoning in Iran will be abolished in the future. Courageous efforts are being made by local human rights defenders who launched the "Stop Stoning Forever" campaign following the May 2006 stonings in Mashhad. Since they began, their efforts have helped save four Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and one man - Hajieh Esmailvand, Soghra Mola’i, Zahra Reza'i, Parisa A and her husband Najaf - from stoning. Another woman, Ashraf Kalhori, has also had her stoning sentence temporarily stayed.

But these efforts have come at a high price, said Amnesty. Campaigners in Iran continue to face harassment and intimidation from the authorities. Asieh Amini, Shadi Sadr and Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh, another leading member of "Stop Stoning Forever", were among 33 Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights arrested while protesting in March 2007 about the trial of five Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights's rights activists in Tehran. Thirty-one of the detainees were released by 9 March. Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh and Shadi Sadr were released on bail of 200 million toumans (over US$215,000) on 19 March. They are likely to face trial, possibly on charges including "disturbing public order" and "acting against state security".

Human rights defenders in Iran believe that international publicity and pressure, in support of local efforts, can help bring about change in the country.

  • find out more about our campaign to abolish the death penalty
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