Human Rights Groups Condemn Cases of Stoning in Iran
Iran's controversial use of stoning as a means of execution has drawn new criticism from international human rights groups after Tehran sentenced three women to the punishment in recent months, reported Radio Free Europe.
The cases in question, according to the report, include the following:
Late last year, a woman named Maryam Ayoubi was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery and murdering her husband in collaboration with her lover. That case is now before Iran's Supreme Court on appeal.
Then, in May, a woman was stoned to death in Tehran's Evin prison. She had been convicted of acting in pornographic films and having sexual relationships outside marriage.
And last month, Iran's criminal justice court sentenced yet another woman and her lover to death for adultery and the murder of her husband. Both the man and the woman -- identified only by her first name, Robabeh -- have been ordered to undergo 100 lashes before their execution. The man is to die by hanging, while the women is to be stoned to death.
The report says that the three cases have attracted the attention of international human rights groups because they show that Tehran is still far from abandoning stoning as a means of execution.
Drewery Dyke of Amnesty International in London told the radio station that in recent years, Iran had imposed stoning sentences only sporadically. Until this year, he said, the last stonings were reported in 1997.
"Amnesty International has recorded sentences for adultery and murder that have resulted in stoning. However, according to the information that Amnesty International has, there has not been a stoning carried out [for several years] until this year. The one before this was in 1997."
Human rights groups strongly object to any cases of stoning because they consider it a particularly cruel form of execution that prolongs the agony of the condemned person. And they say it violates international conventions, some of which Tehran itself has signed.
Elahe Hicks of Human Rights Watch in New York was quoted as calling stoning “a form of torture.”
"We believe that stoning is a part of torturing before death, and that is why it is a violation of Iran's obligations under international human rights law."
According to the report, stoning is a pre-Islamic punishment. It was once practiced in many parts of the world, but in recent years has been almost entirely abandoned except in a few countries -- principally Afghanistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
However, according to Islamic sources, the method of execution also had its roots in Islam. At least one woman was stoned to death during Prophet Mohammad’s rule in the Medina.
Adultery committed by married persons is punishable by death, according to the Islamic Sharia (law), but it is almost impossible to prove the charge in a court of law, which requires a free confession, or the testimony of four authenticated witnesses who would confirm under oath that they saw a complete act of intercourse, to issue a guilty verdict.
However, the penalty is not mentioned in the Holy Quran, the basic source of Islamic jurisprudence – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)