Saturday, January 17, 2009 AI website, Amnesty International Public Statement,15 January 2009 (excerpts) - Amnesty International deplores the execution by stoning of two men - Houshang Khodadadeh and another unidentified man - in Mashhad, north-east Iran, probably on 26 December 2008 and urges the authorities to declare an immediate and effective moratorium on executions by stoning, including in the cases of the ten people currently known to be at risk of stoning to death. The stonings were confirmed on 13 January 2009 by Judiciary Spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi. These new cases of stoning yet again demonstrate that statements - such as one made by Ali Reza Jamshidi in August 2008 in which he declared that stonings in Iran had been halted - or even directives by the Head of Iran’s Judiciary are not enough to halt this horrific practice. The speedy enactment of legislation that unequivocally brings an end to this grotesque punishment is necessary and long overdue. A third man, an Afghan national identified only as “Mahmoud Gh.” managed to free himself from the pit he was to be stoned in, and is currently believed to be in custody. None of the three men were previously known to be at risk of stoning by anti-stoning campaigners in Iran. Amnesty International and campaigners in Iran are aware of ten other people at risk of stoning to death, but fear there may be others. According to the “Stop Stoning Forever” Campaign, which is working for an end to this punishment, at least eight women and two men are at risk of stoning to death in Iran. Amnesty International urges the Iranian authorities to enact a law unequivocally banning stoning as a legal punishment. Pending the adoption of such a law, an immediate and effective moratorium on executions by stoning should be implemented. As some judges, especially outside Tehran continue to sentence individuals to stoning, it should be made clear to officials of the law enforcement, custodial and other relevant ministries and agencies, that this moratorium must not be breached and that any officials who defy that instruction will themselves be held accountable. The Iranian authorities should also ensure that any legislation enacted, including the new Penal Code, conforms to their international obligations under human rights law, and that consensual sexual relations are unambiguously decriminalized.