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Iran: Amnesty International Secretary General calls on the Iranian government to abolish stoning

On the occasion of the fourth World Day Against the Death Penalty, Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International, said:

"I associate myself wholeheartedly with those in Iran who are campaigning so courageously, and at no small risk to themselves, to end the practice of execution by stoning.

It is appalling that some in authority in Iran have attempted to revive this obscene practice, despite the reported moratorium on such killings imposed by the Head of the Judiciary in 2002. Today, up to nine women and two men are under sentence of execution by stoning.

Execution by stoning is a grotesque and horrific practice. It aggravates the innate brutality of the death penalty, being specifically designed to increase the victim's suffering, and is the ultimate form of torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

Stoning must be abolished. I call on the Iranian government to ensure that it is - immediately and totally."

Background Information
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 which was apparently being considered by the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

However, in May 2006 it was reported that Abbas (m) and Mahboubeh (f) were executed by stoning in a cemetery in Mahshhad, having been convicted of murdering Mahboubeh's husband, and of adultery - a charge which carries the penalty of execution by stoning. Part of the cemetery was cordoned off from the public and more than 100 members of the Revolutionary Guards and Bassij Forces, who had previously been invited to attend, reportedly participated in the stoning. Amnesty International wrote to the Head of the Judiciary seeking clarification of these reports, but to date has not received a reply.

A group of human rights defenders in Iran, who are mostly women, including activists, journalists and lawyers, have begun a campaign to abolish stoning. The campaign is being led by Shadi Sadr (f), a lawyer and women's rights defender (WHRD). Amnesty International is taking action on behalf of nine women sentenced to death by stoning featured in this campaign. These are Ashraf Kalhori (see UA 203/06, MDE 13/083/2006, 27 July 2006; and updates), Parisa, Iran, Khayrieh, Kobra Najjar, Shamameh Ghorbani (who is also known as Malek), Soghra Mola'i, and Fatehmeh (see UA 257/06, MDE 13/113/2006, 28 September 2006) and Hajieh Esmailvand (see UA 336/04, MDE 13/053/2004, 16 December 2004; and updates).

The climate in Iran for human rights defenders is dire. Iranian legislation severely restricts freedom of expression and association and human rights defenders often face reprisals for their work in the form of harassment, intimidation, attacks, detention, imprisonment and torture. Many are subject to travel bans that prevent them from leaving the country. Amnesty International is aware that those campaigning against the death penalty, including to abolish stoning, have been subjected to pressure and harassment.

The World Day Against the Death Penalty is organised by the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP) a coalition of over 53 organisations, including Amnesty International, bar associations, trade unions and local and regional authorities which have joined together in an effort to rid the world of the death penalty.

... Payvand News - 10/11/06 ... --

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