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Stoning and Iran

Several people have been stoned to death in Iran in recent years. Ja'far Kiani, was stoned to death for adultery on July 5, 2007 in the village of Aghche-kand, near Takestan in Qazvin province. There are fears that Mokarrameh Ebrahimi, the mother of their two children, may suffer the same fate.

A woman and a man were stoned to death in Mashhad in May 2006. Two sisters, Zohreh Kabiri and Azar Kabiri, allegedly found guilty of adultery, face death by stoning.

Iran’s penal code allows execution by stoning as the penalty for adultery by married persons. The law even defines the proper size of the stones to be used: each one must cause pain when thrown at the accused, but cannot be large enough to kill the person with only one or two hits. As Amnesty International said in a written report, the punishment is “specifically designed to maximize the suffering of its victims.”

In 2002, the head of Iran’s judiciary, Mahmud Hashemi Shahrudi, announced a ban on stoning. Yet this barbaric practice continues and it is disproportionately applied to women.

According to Amnesty International, eleven women and two men currently face execution by stoning, many after grossly unfair trials. According to Amnesty International, women are also particularly vulnerable because their higher illiteracy rate makes them more likely to sign confessions to crimes they did not commit.

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack expressed U.S. concern that in Iran “individuals are being sentenced to death, including by stoning, for crimes that do not meet the standards outlined in the International Covenant for civil and Political Rights, which Iran has ratified.” That Covenant states that a “sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes,” and that “no one shall be subject to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.”