Iran: Fears for man and woman facing stoning

Gilan Mohammadi (female) and Gholamali Eskandari (male) are believed to have been detained since 2003. They are held in Esfahan Central Prison, in the centre of the country.

Amnesty International members are urging the authorities not to execute Gilan Mohammadi and Gholamali Eskandari and calling on them to order an immediate and effective moratorium on executions by stoning. The organisation is also urging the Iranian authorities to enact a law unequivocally banning stoning as a legal punishment.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“Stoning is a sickening punishment, specifically designed to maximise suffering. The Iranian authorities should abandon it immediately.

“We urge people in the UK to get behind the campaign within Iran to stop stoning forever, and to help us save Gilan Mohammadi and Gholamali Eskandari.”

Two lawyers travelled to Esfahan on 14 January this year hoping to meet Gilan Mohammadi and Gholamali Eskandari and become their legal representatives, but they were prevented from doing so by prison and judicial officials. The Esfahan judicial authorities eventually said that this would only be possible if the two convicts first asked to meet with lawyers. One of the lawyers, Mohammad Mostafaie, mentioned in his blog that he never came across such requirements in his professional life and that he feared, based on his past experience with judicial officials in Esfahan, that the authorities were preparing to carry out the executions.

In an interview printed in the 15 January issue of the newspaper 'Etemad-e Melli, the other lawyer, Shadi Sadr, said that the action of the judicial officials in Esfahan was against the law, and that these two people had been denied their right to legal representation.

Background information

Stoning in Iran is prescribed for the offence of "adultery while being married." Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all circumstances but considers execution by stoning to be a particularly grotesque and horrific practice. It is specifically designed to increase the suffering of victims as stones are chosen that are large enough to cause pain, but not so large as to kill the victim immediately.

According to the “Stop Stoning Forever” Campaign, which is working within Iran for an end to this punishment, at least seven other Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and one other man are at risk of stoning to death in Iran. The Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights are Kobra N., held in Reja’i Shahr prison, Karaj; Iran A, held in Sepidar Prison, Ahvaz; Khayrieh V., also held in Sepidar Prison, Ahvaz; Ashraf Kalhori, held in Evin Prison, Tehran; Afsaneh R, held in Adel Abad Prison in Shiraz;, M.J, held Vakil Abad Prison in Mashhad; and H, also held in Vakil Abad Prison in Mashhad. The man is Abdollah Farivar, held in Sari Prison in Mazandaran province.

Two other Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights – sisters Zohreh and Azar Kabiri-niat – are being retried before Branch 77 of Tehran’s General Court. Their previous conviction and sentence to stoning was overturned in 2008 by the Head of the Judiciary. If convicted again after the retrial, they risk being sentenced once again to death by stoning.

The Head of the Iranian Judiciary declared a moratorium on executions by stoning in 2002 and in August 2008 the spokesman for the judiciary, Ali Reza Jamshidi, said that stonings had been halted. However, at least four men and one woman have been stoned to death since 2002. Most recently, two men were stoned to death in Mashhad on or around 26 December 2008; a third man managed to free himself from the pit in which he was to be stoned.

In a 13 January press conference, Ali Reza Jamshidi confirmed that the December 2008 stonings had taken place. He also said that the directive on the moratorium had no legal weight and judges were therefore free to ignore it.

In 2007, a revised Penal Code was submitted to Iran's parliament for approval, and is still under consideration. This new version still provides for the penalty of stoning, but also states that should the implementation of the penalty cause "harm to the system," it can, on the proposal of the prosecutor in the case and with the approval of the Head of the Judiciary, be changed to execution by other methods or to 100 lashes, depending on the type of proof. Take urgent action to stop the stoning of Gilan Mohammadi and Gholamali Eskandari

More media information:
Steve Ballinger, Amnesty International UK press office, +44 (0)20 7033 1548
Out of office hours: +44 (0)7721 398984

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