06 July 2010
Stoning to Death
Iran: Fears for two women facing execution for adultery and 'enmity against God'
Posted: 01 July 2010
Amnesty International has made a new call on the Iranian authorities to immediately halt all executions and commute all death sentences as concern grows about two women and other prisoners who may be at imminent risk of execution.
The organisation is also urging the authorities to review and repeal death penalty laws, to disclose full details of all death sentences and executions, and to join the growing international trend towards abolition.
Two women are feared to be at imminent risk of execution. Zeynab Jalalian, a political activist and member of the Kurdish minority, was sentenced to death in early 2009 after being convicted of “enmity against God”, while Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who has two children, could be executed by stoning at any time for “adultery while being married".
Currently held in Evin Prison, Tehran, Zeynab Jalalian, an Iranian Kurd, was arrested in 2007. Unconfirmed reports are circulating widely that her execution may take place any day. She was convicted in or around January 2009 of “enmity against God” in connection with her alleged membership of a Kurdish armed opposition group. She has said she was tortured. She is reported to have been denied access to her lawyer during her trial, which reportedly lasted only a few minutes and during which no evidence was produced against her. Zeynab Jalalian’s death sentence was upheld on appeal and confirmed by Iran’s Supreme Court on 26 November 2009. Her family has received no news of her for a month and has been told by the authorities that her case file has been “lost”.
On 13 June, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, published an article entitled Sakineh on the threshold of stoning and pointed out that there is now no legal obstacle to her execution being carried out at any time. In May 2006 she was convicted of having had an “illicit relationship” with two men and received 99 lashes as her sentence. Despite this, she was subsequently convicted of “adultery while being married", which she has denied, and was sentenced to death by stoning.
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has retracted a “confession” made during interrogation, stating that it was made under duress. However, she was convicted by a majority of three out of five trial judges on the basis of the “knowledge of the judge”, a provision in Iranian law that allows judges to make their own subjective and possibly arbitrary determination regarding guilt even in the absence of clear or conclusive evidence.
Her death sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court on 27 May 2007. Her case has been sent to Iran’s Amnesty and Clemency Commission twice, but her request for clemency was rejected on both occasions..
Prisoners on death row are often not informed when they are due to be executed until the last minute, adding to their suffering and that of their families. Sometimes their lawyers are not informed 48 hours in advance, as is required by Iranian law.
Despite these grave shortcomings, the Iranian authorities continue to carry out more executions than most other states. This year, Amnesty International recorded no less than 126 executions in the period from 1 January to 6 June. Those hanged included five political prisoners who were executed on 9 May; the authorities may have intended the executions as a warning to potential protestors in advance of the anniversary on 12 June of the hotly disputed presidential election of 2009, which sparked mass protests and a wave of state repression.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases as a violation of the right to life and the ultimate form of cruel and inhuman punishment. In 2008, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions. Iran was one of the minority of states that voted against the resolution.
Norway summons Iranian ambassador to protest death sentences
OSLO, July 5, 2010 (AFP) - Norway on Monday summoned the Iranian ambassador to Oslo to protest death sentences against a woman convicted of adultery and a man convicted of a murder committed when he was a minor, the foreign ministry said.
The ministry said the government's decision to summon Seyed Hossein Rezvani was also meant to highlight the case of a jailed dissident.
"I summoned the ambassador to give him a clear message on Norway's view on three cases," Espen Barth Eide, a state secretary at the foreign ministry, told AFP.
Eide said Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, who has been sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, had "already been punished for the same conviction before."
The 43-year-old mother of two had reportedly been convicted of having an "illicit relationship outside marriage" in May 2006 and was punished with 99 lashes.
"It is an international principle that a person should not be punished for the same crime more than once," Eide insisted.
The two other cases he brought up with the Iranian ambassador were those of Mohammad Reza Haddadi, who was sentenced to hang for a murder he committed when he was a minor, and of Majid Tavakoli, a student leader jailed after protests against the regime last year.
'Help us save our mother': Pleas from the children of 'adulterous' Iranian woman who faces death by stoning
2nd July 2010
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani faces death by stoning after being convicted of adultery
An Iranian woman faces death by stoning after being convicted of adultery.
Amnesty International yesterday called on the Iranian authorities to halt the imminent execution of mother-of-two Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and the hanging of another woman said to be a political activist.
Ashtiani was convicted of having an ‘illicit relationship’ with two men in May 2006 and received 99 lashes as her sentence.
Despite this, she has also been convicted of adultery and sentenced to death by stoning.
The 43-year-old has retracted a ‘confession’ she said was made under duress.
Appealing for help to the international community, her daughter, Farideh, 16, and son, Sajad, 20, said yesterday: ‘Please help end this nightmare and do not let it turn into a reality. Help us save our mother.’
Under Iran’s Islamic penal code, adultery is punishable by stoning to death or flogging, while hanging is the penalty for murder and other crimes such as drug trafficking.
Stoning sentences were widely carried out after Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, but have been rare in recent years.
Men killed in this way are buried to the waist, while women are buried deeper, to stop the stones hitting their breasts.
If a prisoner manages to pull free during a stoning, he or she is acquitted or jailed, but is not executed. It is easier for a man to drag himself free because he is not buried so deeply.
In December 2008 a man convicted of adultery escaped death by stoning by dragging himself out of the pit he had been buried in for the punishment.
But two other alleged male adulterers were killed by the barbaric method in the same incident, which took place in the north-eastern city of Mashhad.
Iranian activists against stoning say it is not prescribed in the Koran.
Iran has the highest execution rate in the world.
Amnesty International has recorded 126 executions between January and June – among them five political prisoners.
(According to latest reports, under international pressure, the Iranian government has decided not to go ahead with the stoning of Sakineh Ashtiani but there is no word on whether she has been granted clemency—NAI)