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Iran: Urgent appeals as woman faces death by stoning

Ashraf Kolhari, a mother of four Children's rights between the ages of nine and nineteen, is at imminent risk of execution by stoning for adultery. She has received the order for the implementation of her sentence, and is reportedly due to be executed by stoning by the end of July. She has been held in Tehran’s Evin prison for five years.

Amnesty International members are urgently writing to the Iranian authorities, calling for the death sentence on Ashraf Kolhori to be commuted immediately and for the abolition of death by stoning in Iran.

Ashraf Kolhari had an extra marital affair after her divorce request was rejected by the court, reportedly on the basis that she had Children's rights, and therefore had to resume living with her husband. She was sentenced on two charges; the first was for participating in the murder of her husband, for which she received a sentence of 15 years imprisonment; the second was for adultery as a married woman, for which she was sentenced to execution by stoning.

Execution by stoning aggravates the brutality of the death penalty and is a method specifically designed to increase the victim's suffering since the stones are deliberately chosen to be large enough to cause pain, but not so large as to kill the victim immediately. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases as the ultimate cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and a violation of the right to life.


Article 83 of the Iranian Penal Code stipulates that the penance for adultery by a married woman with an adult man is execution by stoning. In death penalty cases such as murder, in which the sentence is ‘qesas’ (retribution), the victim’s family has the right to pardon the condemned. However, in death penalty cases where the charge is adultery, according to Article 72 of the Penal Code, if a person confesses to adultery and subsequently repents, the Judge can ask for his or her pardon by the Supreme Leader.

The Iranian Penal Code is very specific about the manner of execution and types of stones which should be used. Article 102 states that men will 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 should they be so small that they could not be defined as stones”.

According to reports at the time, in December 2002 Ayatollah Shahroudi, the Head of the Judiciary, sent a ruling to judges ordering a moratorium on execution by stoning, pending a decision on a permanent change in the law to be taken by the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. However, on 18 September 2003, the Official Gazette published a law entitled ‘Implementation regulations for sentences of retribution, stoning, killings, crucifixion, execution and lashing’.

Since December 2002, Amnesty International has recorded cases in which a sentence of execution by stoning was passed, but not any in which the sentence was implemented. However, in May 2006 it was reported that Abbas Hajizadeh (m) and Mahboubeh Mohammadi (f) were executed by stoning in a cemetery in Mahshhad, part of which was cordoned off from the public. More than 100 members of the Revolutionary Guards and Bassij Forces, who had previously been invited to attend, participated in the stoning.

Abbas Hajizadeh and Mahboubeh Mohammadi were reportedly convicted of murdering Mahboubeh Mohammadi’s husband, and of adultery. It was for the charge of adultery that they were reportedly sentenced to death by stoning. Mahboubeh Mohammadi also reportedly received a 15-year prison sentence, which should have been served before she was executed. Amnesty International wrote to the Head of the Judiciary seeking clarification of these reports, but to date has not received a reply. According to Shadi Sadr (f), a lawyer and Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s rights defender (WHRD), who is defending Ashraf Kolhari, and has begun a campaign against stoning, there are several other Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights under sentence of execution by stoning.

  • Take action to commute Ashraf Kolhari's execution
  • Find out more about our campaign to abolish the death penalty /li>
  • Take action to end child executions in Iran /li>

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