Justice for Iran, May 18, 2013| Just days prior to the approval of Iran’s revised penal code, the Guardian Council has once again included the sentence of death by stoning as part of the Islamic Republic’s penal code. During the process of revising the said document, the Islamic Republic Parliament had replaced stoning with execution or lashing. However, adultery remains punishable by stoning in the final draft of the penal code, which the president is expected to give his assent to within the next few days.
The only difference between the revised code and the one it replaces is that in accordance with the suggestion of the presiding judge and approval of the head of the judiciary, if adultery is proven in accordance with the testimony of four witnesses or four accounts of admission, then execution can replace death by stoning. In those cases where adultery is proven based on the knowledge of the judge, stoning can be reduced to lashing.
According to the revised code which Justice For Iran obtained a full copy of that, any sexual act outside of marriage or between members of the same sex is considered a crime. In addition, all other discriminatory measures including those against women, such as the value of a woman’s testimony being half of that of a man, remain unchanged. The revised code also enables judges to sentence juvenile offenders, civil or political activists or critics of the government to execution.
Justice for Iran condemns the Iranian authorities for including those articles in the Islamic Republic penal code that violate basic human rights and Iran’s commitments to international conventions and treaties. Furthermore, it regrets the fact that despite all efforts by women’s rights activists throughout the world, inhumane sentences such as stoning that are recognised by the UN Special Rapporteur as torture, remain as part of Iran’s penal code. The judges who have issued and implemented stoning sentences enjoy absolute impunity.
We express our deep concern for those women and men who face the sentence of death by stoning and are held indefinitely in Islamic Republic prisons, including Ashraf Kolhari, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, Maryam Bagherzadeh, Kheiriyeh Valania, Iran Eskandari, Kobra Babaei, Sarieh Ebadi, Rahim Mohammadi, Mohammad Ali Navid Khomami and Naghi Ahmadi.
Based on statistics released by Amnesty International, since the inception of the Islamic Republic 77 cases of stoning have been registered. Although Amnesty adds that this number may in fact be higher as Islamic Republic authorities refuse to release official statistics and reports on cases involving stoning.
The Stop Stoning Forever Campaign which activities covered the three-year period between 2006 and 2009 has also confirmed that six men and one woman were stoned to death. In collaboration with lawyers the Campaign was able to stop the same sentence for at least six women and one man.
The first case of death by stoning after the establishment of the Islamic Republic in Iran applied to six women and one man and took place in Kerman in June 1980.