Two Executed by Stoning, as a Third Escapes
(3 January 2009) Three men were subjected to stoning sentences on 25 December 2008, in the Behesht Zahra Cemetery in the City of Mashad, according to local sources, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today. Two were stoned to death, while a third, an Afghani national, apparently managed to escape from the hole in which he was partially buried. His fate is unknown.
The stonings contradict an official claim that Iranian authorities had put an end to the practice, a form of capital punishment considered barbaric by the international community. On 5 August 2008, Iranian Judiciary spokesperson Alireza Jamshidi claimed that all stoning sentences had been stopped and the punishment would no longer be carried out.“These executions are deeply troubling not only as egregious violations of human rights and affronts to human dignity, but also because they raise serious questions about the integrity of government claims,” stated Aaron Rhodes, a spokesman for the Campaign. “Stonings should have ended before, and need to end now.”
According to Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, men are buried up to their waist and stoned to death for the “crime” of engaging in extramarital sexual relationships. If a person convicted on the basis of another’s testimony manages to escape while being stoned, his life may be spared, which appears to have been the case regarding one of the men stoned on 25 December. If a person convicted based on his own confession escapes, then he must be reburied and stoned to death.
In the past two years, at least six people have been subjected to stoning, including the cases here reported.
On 29 December 2008, reporters asked Judiciary spokesperson Jamshidi about the stoning sentence of a woman named Afsaneh in the city of Shiraz and he claimed the sentence has not been finalized by the Supreme Court. However, Iranian human rights defenders have learned of the Supreme Court’s approval on 4 August 2008—a day before the Judiciary claimed an end to stoning.
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran appealed to the Iranian Judiciary and Parliament to halt and outlaw stoning, a practice that degrades respect for human life and poisons Iran’s international relations.