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Stoning and Human Rights
Stoning is a grave and serious violation of International Human Rights Law.
Stoning breeches the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights (1966), to which Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria and the Sudan are party signatories, amongst others.
Article 6 of the ICCPR states that “in countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes”, of which adultery is not one.
Article 14, paragraph 1 of the ICCPR states that “All persons shall be equal before courts and tribunals. In the determination of any criminal charge against him, or of his rights and obligations in a suit of law, everyone shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent, and impartial tribunal established by law.” Paragraph 2 of the same Article states that “Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall have the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.”
Stoning breaches both of these rights, due to the fact that it results in nearly all cases from an unfair trial and biased Judiciary. For example, in Iran, individual judges are allowed to cast a stoning sentence without checks from other ranches of government or the burden of proof. Most stoning sentences are issued not on the basis of testimony or confession but on the judges “knowledge” or “intuition.” Article 105 of the Islamic Penal code of Iran allows a judge to rule according to his gut feeling instead of hard evidence. As a result, most of not all adultery cases are unfairly tried.
Article 7 of the ICCPR states that "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment".
This last injunction is the content of a whole Convention: the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1985), which is widely considered to have reached the level of customary law due to its strong international acceptance by more than fifty nations, including many Muslim nations.
Stoning also represents a human rights abuse towards women, as women constitute nearly all the known victims of stoning due to statutes, values and/or customs that discriminate against women. Embedded as they are within highly patriarchal value-systems, these discriminatory laws and customs almost always assign more guilt to women than to men in any manner of action that is seen as violating ‘norms’ of sexual behaviour, especially any instance of alleged sexual relations outside marriage (zina).
As such, stoning violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), which guarantees the right to life, liberty, and security of person without distinction of any kind, including sex (Articles 2 and 3 of the UDHR.)
Stoning is undeniably one of the most grave human rights abuses, one that should not be overlooked by the international community.
For more information on Stoning and Human Rights, see:
“A Brief History of Grassroots Struggles to End Stoning”
By Mehrangiz Kar
This is a history and analysis of the struggle to end stoning in Iran since the 1979 revolution. It takes an academic and human-rights approach, and comments on the religious challenges women’s rights defenders face.
“Stoning to Death in Iran: A Crime Against Humanity Carried Out By the Mullah’s Regime”
Prepared By: Mr. Maurice Danby Copithorne, Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran.
In October of 1997, the Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran issued this statement as part of an overall “Statement of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran.” It uses a Human Rights framework to urge the government of Iran to remove stoning from the Islamic Penal Code
“Sudan: Urgent Appeal: Imminent Executions/Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Punishment”
By: Amnesty International and the Sudan Human Rights Organization—Cairo Branch
On January 8, 2002, Amnesty International and the Sudan Human Rights Organization in Cairo issued this join appeal urging action on the imminent executions of six men and stoning of Abok Alfa Akok, who was convicted of adultery and sentenced to stoning bny the Criminal Court of Nyala, Southern Darfur.
“Gender Discrimination in Stoning”
By: Soheila Vahdati and Shadi Sadr
This piece answers the question: Why is it mostly women that fall victim to the punishment of stoning for adultery? Includes information on legalized forced marriage and denial of divorce rights; punishment for sexual acts outside of marriage; discrimination in the judicial system; and discrimination in the actual practice of stoning. This article focuses primarily on Iran, but many of these discriminatory laws occur in other countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, and the Sudan.
For texts of International Human Rights Conventions pertinent to stoning, see:
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1976)
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979)
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment (1985)