For Immediate Release
Iran Must Not Execute Woman Spared Stoning Death by Any Means
LONDON - Amnesty International today urged the
Iranian authorities not to execute by any method a 43-year-old woman
convicted of adultery, following an official statement that she will
not be executed by stoning.
The Iranian Embassy in London announced on Thursday that Sakineh
Mohammadi Ashtiani would not be stoned to death. However, fears remain
that the mother-of-two could be hanged, as she has been convicted of
“adultery while married”.
"We note the Iranian Embassy's statement on stoning, but a mere
change of the method of execution would not address the injustice faced
by Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty
International's Middle East and North Africa deputy director.
"The statement does not specify which judicial authorities in Iran
have been consulted. Until she and her lawyer have been officially
notified otherwise, she could still face execution, including by
stoning," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was convicted in May 2006 of having an
“illicit relationship” with two men and received 99 lashes as her
sentence. Despite this, she was then also convicted of “adultery while
being married", which she has denied, and sentenced to death by stoning.
She 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
This is a provision in Iranian law that allows judges to make their
own subjective and possibly arbitrary determination of guilt, even in
the absence of clear or conclusive evidence.
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani's death sentence was confirmed by the
Supreme Court on 27 May 2007. Her case has been sent to the Amnesty and
Clemency Commission twice, but her request for clemency was rejected on
The judicial authorities in Iran must immediately clarify Sakineh
Mohammad Ashtiani's legal status and conduct a thorough review of her
case, as well as all other cases where stoning sentences have been
passed, Amnesty International said.
“A declaration by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is simply not
enough to save once and for all the life of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.
We fear that this announcement might just be a tactic to deflect
criticism,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.
"To punish - and in some cases execute - people for being in
consenting relationships is no business of the state. Anyone treated as
such is a prisoner of conscience," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.
Amnesty International is aware of at least 10 other people (seven
women and three men) under sentence of stoning and believes there are
likely to be others. Last year, at least three people sentenced to
death by stoning were in fact executed by hanging.
"Any form of state killing is unacceptable and inhumane, and Iran
must now give assurances that Sakineh - along with the numerous other
prisoners on death row in Iran - will not be killed by any means."
Thursday's statement said that stoning as a punishment has now been
removed from a new draft of Iran's Penal Code, which is currently under
review by Iran's parliament and is yet to be ratified.
However, it remains to be seen if this decision has been ratified and if it will be implemented.
Amnesty International has also called on Iran's lawmakers to confirm
the statement made by the Embassy in London in relation to the banning
of the punishment of stoning in the new version of the Penal Code under
Amnesty International opposes the criminalization of consensual sexual relations.
Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights for all. Our supporters are outraged by human rights abuses but inspired by hope for a better world - so we work to improve human rights through campaigning and international solidarity. We have more than 2.2 million members and subscribers in more than 150 countries and regions and we coordinate this support to act for justice on a wide range of issues.