Amnesty launches campaign against stoning in Iran

By staff writers
16 Jan 2008

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The global human rights group Amnesty International has called on the government of Iran to immediately abolish the "grotesque and horrific" practice of publicly stoning people to death.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has one of the highest rates of execution in the world. In 2006, 177 people were put to death, mostly by hanging, according to AI. In 2007, that number was expected to be exceeded, with 124 people executed in the first seven months of the year.

Amnesty cites as an example of the continuance of the inhumane procedure an Iranian man who had been stoned to death in July 2007 for committing adultery, despite a moratorium being imposed on such executions back in 2002.

The woman the man was convicted of committing adultery with still faces the threat of being stoned, a practice that involves the woman being buried up to her breasts in sand and then pelted with stones until she dies.

In a new report, the human rights campaign declares: "Amnesty International is calling on the Iranian government to abolish immediately and totally execution by stoning and to impose a moratorium on the death penalty."

The 30-page document continues: "Iranian law prescribes that the stones are deliberately chosen to be large enough to cause pain, but not so large as to kill the victim immediately ... It is a particularly grotesque and horrific practice."

Amnesty, which was founded by a Catholic but now works with people of all faiths and none, has long opposed the death penalty in all circumstances. But its efforts to free individual prisoners and to work for abolition have also included targeting specific inhuman forms of execution.

Stoning remains the favoured form of execution in cases involving adultery in Iran - in spite of its comparative rarity in other instances. It has a disproportionate impact on women, says the Amnesty report.

As well as calling for the abolition of stoning and a moratorium on the death penalty, the campaign is also urging the Iranian government to decriminalise adultery, in line with many other countries.

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