Iran: Woman faces stoning for adultery

Man already reportedly stoned to death last week

Amnesty International has issued an ‘urgent action’ appeal on behalf of a woman in Iran who is facing imminent death by stoning for adultery. This comes days after a man, described as the woman’s partner, was reportedly stoned to death last week.

The woman, Mokarrameh Ebrahimi, aged 43, was convicted along with Ja’far Kiani of adultery more than 10 years ago and both had been imprisoned for 11 years in Choubin prison, in Qazvin province, north-west Iran. Their two Children's rights, one of whom is aged 11, are believed to live in prison with their mother.

Mokarrameh Ebrahimi and Ja’far Kiani were convicted under article 83 of Iran’s penal code, which prescribes execution by stoning as punishment for adultery committed by a married man or a married woman. In this case the judge's "knowledge" that the adultery had taken place was deemed to be proof of the offence.

After several dates were fixed for the public executions in June, delays had led to hopes that the executions would not proceed. However, the campaigning organisation ‘Stop Stoning Forever’ recently reported that Ja’far Kiani has already been stoned to death in Aghche-kand on 5 July, with local government and judiciary officials and members of the public taking part in the killing. On 8 July the newspaper E’temad-e Melli also reported that local people and a source close to a local parliamentary representative had confirmed the execution.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“To execute anyone by stoning is barbaric and disgraceful; to execute a woman for adultery in this cruel way simply beggars belief.

“It is imperative that Iran’s head of the judiciary takes immediate steps to stop the shameful stoning of Mokarrameh Ebrahimi while clarifying what has happened to her co-accused Ja’far Kiani.

“Iran should abolish the sentence of stoning once and for all.”

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases as the ultimate cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment. Execution by stoning is particularly cruel, being 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 is also calling on the Iranian government to abolish all executions by stoning and to impose a moratorium pending the repeal or amendment of article 83 of the penal code. Amnesty International is aware of at least eight other individuals under stoning sentences in Iran: Ashraf Kalhori (f), Iran (f), Khayrieh (f), Shamameh Ghorbani (also known as Malek) (f), Kobra N. (f), Soghra Mola’i (f), Fatemeh (f), and Abdollah F. (m). The organisation calls for these, and any other stonings in Iran, to be commuted.

Amnesty International also opposes the criminalisation of consensual adult sexual relations conducted in private, and further urges the Iranian authorities to review all relevant legislation with the aim of decriminalising such acts.

In addition to executing people for adultery, Iran is the only country in the world that still officially executes child offenders - people convicted of crimes committed before they were 18. Last month Amnesty International published the names of 71 child offenders currently facing execution in Iran. Of the 24 child offenders executed in Iran since 1990, 11 were still Children's rights at the time of their execution. Others are held in prison until their 18th birthday before being hanged.

Background

In December 2002 Ayatollah Shahroudi, Iran’s head of the judiciary, reportedly sent a ruling to judges ordering a moratorium on execution by stoning, pending a decision on a permanent change in the law, which was apparently being considered by the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

However in September 2003 a law concerning the implementation of certain kinds of penalties, including stoning, was passed, which appeared to undermine this moratorium. Also despite the supposed moratorium, Amnesty International continued to record sentences of stoning being passed, though none of these were known to have been implemented until May 2006, when a woman and a man were reportedly stoned to death. The two victims - Abbas (m) and Mahboubeh (f) - were reportedly stoned to death in a cemetery in Mashhad after being convicted of murdering Mahboubeh’s husband, and of adultery, a charge which carries the penalty of stoning. Part of the cemetery was cordoned off from the public and more than 100 members of the Revolutionary Guard and Bassij Forces, who had been invited to attend, reportedly participated in stoning the couple to death.

In November the late Minister of Justice, Jamal Karimi-Rad, denied that stonings were being carried out in Iran, a claim repeated on 8 December by the Head of the Prisons Organisation in Tehran. Campaigners against stoning have since said that there is irrefutable evidence that the Mashhad stoning did indeed occur.

In mid-2006, a group of Iranian human rights defenders began a campaign to abolish stoning, having initially identified 11 individuals at risk of stoning. Since the campaign began, three individuals have been saved from stoning: Hajieh Esmailvand (f), Parisa (f) and Najaf (m). Others have been granted stays of execution, and some of the cases are being reviewed or re-tried.

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