(New York, June 20, 2007) – At 1:30 p.m. Tehran time, a Judiciary official in Ghazvin Province told the semi-official Fars News Agency that the planned stoning has been halted. “According to the directive by the Chief of Judiciary, the implementation of stoning sentence for two people in Takistan, Ghazvin has been stopped,” he said. This is a great step forward for the anti-stoning campaigners in Iran. Human Rights Watch commends the head of Judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi Shahrudi, for bringing an immediate stop to the planned stoning. However, Iran must also move quickly to remove stoning as a form of punishment from its laws, in order to comply with its international obligations.
Iran should also end prosecution of individuals for private acts within their personal sphere. International human rights law guarantees individuals the right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters relating to their sexuality free of coercion, discrimination, and violence.
(New York, June 20, 2007) – The Iranian Judiciary should immediately stop the scheduled stoning tomorrow of a woman and man charged with adultery, Human Rights Watch said today. Their executions are scheduled to take place on Thursday at 9 a.m. in a public square in Takistan, a town in the north-central province of Ghazvin.
“The Iranian government is about to kill a mother and father in the most brutal manner,” said Joe Stork, deputy director of the Middle East division of Human Rights Watch. “The Judiciary must take immediate action to save the lives of this couple and end barbaric punishments such as death by stoning.”
Ebrahimi, a mother of three children, has been awaiting her death sentence in the Choubin prison in Ghazvin province for the last 11 years. The man with whom she was accused of having had “illegal relations” has also been in prison during this time.
The Islamic Penal Code of Iran allows for the punishment of death by stoning for crimes of adultery. Iran is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states in article 6 that “in countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes.” According to article 7 of the covenant, “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all circumstances because of its inherent cruelty.
In December 2002, Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi Shahrudi, the head of Iran’s Judiciary, ordered a ban on stoning. Yet this form of punishment continues, and it is disproportionately applied to women. In response to this, Iranian women’s rights activists initiated the Campaign to End Stoning Forever to document and prevent the practice throughout Iran.
“This impending executions show that the government isn’t enforcing its ban on stoning, nor is it acting in accordance with its international obligations,” Stork said. “The Judiciary can no longer credibly deny that stoning takes place in Iran. The authorities should act without delay to ban this shameful practice once and for all.”