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Iran: Suspension of stoning a welcome step if carried out

Amnesty International has welcomed the announcement by the spokesperson for Iran’s judiciary that execution by stoning has been suspended, as a result of which several Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights have had their sentences commuted.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“Stoning is a brutal and inhumane punishment, purposefully designed to maximise suffering. It has no place in the modern world.

“The Iranian authorities must now follow through on their announcement and ensure that this horrific punishment is never used again.”

Amnesty cautioned that the authorities must ensure that this is not a ‘hollow promise.’ They failed to stop the practice after Ayatollah Shahroudi, the head of Iran’s judiciary, announced a moratorium on stoning in December 2002. At least one stoning execution was carried out in 2007 in Qazvin province.

Kate Allen said:

“An end to stoning would be a real victory for Iranian human rights activists who have mounted their own Stop Stoning Forever Campaign. It would be a big step forward for human rights.

“The Iranian authorities should now act to end other cruel and inhuman punishments like flogging and the amputation of limbs, and take other steps to reduce use of the death penalty.”

In January 2008 Amnesty International published a 30-page report Iran: End executions by stoning.

Iran's existing Penal Code prescribes execution by stoning as the penalty for adultery by married persons. It even dictates that the stones are large enough to cause pain, but not so large as to kill the victim immediately.

Despite official claims that stonings have been halted - including a moratorium issued by the Head of the Judiciary in 2002 - several have taken place, with the latest in 2007. Ja'far Kiani, a man, was stoned to death for adultery on 5 July 2007 in the village of Aghche-kand, near Takestan in Qazvin province. There are fears that Mokarrameh Ebrahimi, with whom he had two Children's rights, may suffer the same fate. She is in Choubin prison, Qazvin province, apparently with one of their Children's rights. A woman and a man are also known to have been stoned to death in Mashhad in May 2006.

The majority of those sentenced to death by stoning are Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights. Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights are not treated equally with men under the law and by courts, and they are also particularly vulnerable to unfair trials because their higher illiteracy rate makes them more likely to sign confessions to crimes they did not commit.

Despite this bleak reality, human rights defenders in Iran believe that international publicity can help bring an end to stoning. Courageous efforts are being made by their Stop Stoning Forever campaign, whose efforts have helped save five people from stoning (and led to another sentence being stayed) since it began in October 2006.

These efforts have come at a price, with campaigners facing harassment and intimidation by the authorities. Thirty-three Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights, including members of the Stop Stoning Forever campaign, were 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.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases.

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