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U.S. Condemns Stoning In Iran

The government of Iran recently confirmed that in December 2 men in the city of Mashhad were stoned to death on the charge of adultery. A third man was able to free himself from the pit in which he was buried and survived.

According to the "Stop Stoning Forever Campaign," an organization devoted to ending the gruesome practice, there are at least 8 women and 2 other men who are at risk of being stoned to death in Iran. However, Judiciary Chief Mahmoud Hashemi Sharoudi recently issued an order that the stoning verdict against one woman be changed to 100 lashes.

Despite a 2002 directive issued by Mr. Shahroudi, announcing a ban on stoning, in a recent news conference Judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi said that Mr. Shahroudi's directive was advisory only, and that judges in Iran could ignore it if they chose to do so. However, the Tehran criminal court recently acquitted 2 sisters who had been sentenced to stoning on the charge of adultery.

The stoning verdict had been originally approved by the Supreme Court, but once it was taken to the Judiciary Chief for approval the Judiciary Chief said the verdict was not in conformance with religious laws and was not legal.

Amnesty International issued a statement deploring the stoning executions that took place in Mashhad. It also urged Iranian authorities not to carry out the sentences of death by stoning against Iranians in other areas of the country.

"Stoning is a sickening punishment, specifically designed to maximize suffering," said Amnesty International United Kingdom Director Kate Allen. "The Iranian authorities should abandon it immediately." The European Union also condemned the practice.

The United States joins the international community in denouncing the inhumane practice of stoning in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In a written statement issued by the Department of State, the U.S. called the practice "cruel and unusual punishment ... that does not meet the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Iran has ratified. We call on Iran not only to permanently abolish the practice of stoning, but to offer all defendants fair and transparent trials."