that ban death by stoning and forbid the execution of minors.
Local Iranian media reports that the changes were approved by the guardian
council, a body tasked with ensuring that the country's judicial laws do not
contravene Islamic law.
The legislation now requires only the signature of the president to be
enshrined into law.
Prior to the reforms, Iran has the record for executing more juveniles than any
other country in the world. A report published human rights group Human Rights
Watch earlier this year stated that more than a hundred children are currently
on death row. Most are not executed until they turn 18.
Stoning is usually reserved for men and women found guilty of adultery. At
least 99 people have been stoned to death in Iran since 1980.
Drewery Dyke, an expert on Iran at Amnesty International, warns that due to
quirks of the Iranian legal system, the reforms are not as clear cut as they
"Execution is a specific legal concept in Iran. Punishment for murder in Iran
under Islamic law is termed 'retribution of the soul'," Mr Dyke explains,
adding that children may still be killed if charged with murder.
"Similarly with stoning, they have removed the punishment of stoning for
adultery but we still don't know what manner of punishment will be proscribed
in the new law. There is more to his than meets the eye – the reforms do allow
for a backdoor application of stoning."
Execution sentences are routinely meted out for crimes of murder,
homosexuality, adultery, drug smuggling, espionage and any perceived disruption
to the economic and civil wellbeing of the country.
Amnesty International warned in December of a "killing spree of staggering
proportions" being carried out in Iran, reporting that more than 600 people had
been executed by the state from the beginning of 2011 until the end of
November. At least 3 were children.
In September, Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, expressed his grave
concern with the Islamic Republic's human rights record. He was, "deeply
troubled by reports of increased numbers of executions, amputations, arbitrary
arrest and detention, unfair trials torture and ill-treatment."
News that 45-year-old Saineh Mohammadi Shtiani had been sentenced to death by
stoning having been found guilty of murder and adultery caused a storm of
international controversy. As a result of international pressure, her sentence
was 'suspended' in January last year. She now faces death by hanging.
Iran has previously tried to improve its poor human rights record. Ten years
ago, and advisory was issued to Iran's judiciary urging judges to avoid
sentencing death by stoning in preference of hanging.
(source: The Telegraph)