IRAN : Stoning against a backdrop of multiple hangings

Press release
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The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LDDHI) condemn the stoning sentence of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and the alleged secret and massive executions of prisoners in the Vakil Abad Prison in Mashad. They call upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to immediately cease using the death penalty as an instrument of terror and repression.

FIDH and LDDHI support both international and Iranian mobilisations calling for the Iranian authorities to halt the execution of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, after a revised conviction was handed down on 11 August.

The decision, which corresponds to one of the most barbaric practices condemned under international law puts Iran in violation of its international obligations under the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights, which prohibits the use of death penalty for convictions of adultery (article 6), condemns strongly any form of torture and barbaric practices such as stoning (article 7), and rejects any conviction where the convicted’s confession has been abstracted under torture. Both FIDH and LDDHI repeat their call to the Iranian authorities to repeal the law on the use of stoning, which was repeatedly asked by the United Nations’ Human rights committee. [1]

This decision comes against a backdrop of a series of expeditive and massive hangings which would have been carried out over the past week under full secrecy. Reports from human rights activists and ex-inmates of the Vakil Abad Prison disclose that Iranian judicial authorities would have ordered the hanging of over one hundred individuals inside the prison walls, 68 of which are said to have been carried out last Wednesday, 18 August 2010. There are allegedly hundreds more individuals on death row in Wards 101, 102, 103 and 104, set to be executed in the coming weeks. Not only would these sentences have been carried out under a veil of utmost secrecy, but the sentences themselves and the collective nature of the executions would violate international law.

The number of executions taking place in Iran are continually on the rise. In 2007, 317 persons were officially executed, which increased to 346 in 2008 and 338 in 2009. These official statistics are flagrant underestimates since the Iranian government continues to flout United Nations resolutions and recommendations by shrouding executions in secrecy and reporting only a small percentage of those that take place. The date and often the executions themselves are hidden from prisoners’ family members, lawyers and the general public. While FIDH and LDDHI oppose the death penalty in all circumstances, the manner in which the Mashad prison executions are reportedly carried out is particularly abhorrent.

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