Iran scraps death penalty for apostasy and stoning

The Iranian Government has decided to remove articles stipulating the death penalty for apostasy from the Islamic Penal Code Bill.

Ali Shahrokhi of the Legal and Judicial Committee of the Parliament reportedly told the Iranian state news agency IRNA of this pronouncement, according to a BBC Persian news service report on 23 June.

Mr Shahrokhi also stated that stoning was not "in the interest of the regime". He told IRNA, “Islam has set a strict set of conditions for the implementation of punishments such as stoning, that they can rarely be proven. Hence the legal and judicial commission members concluded that some of these laws are unnecessary to mention.”

The Islamic Penal Code Bill was approved in its preliminary vote by 196 for, seven against, and two abstentions, by the Iranian Parliament on 9 September 2009. It was then passed on to the Committee for judicial review. The bill’s initial approval has been strongly condemned by the international community.

The Islamic Penal Code bill will now be sent to the Iranian Parliament for a final vote before its review by the Guardian Council.

Alexa Papadouris, Advocacy Director at Christian Solidarity Worldwide said: “CSW warmly welcomes this positive development in the progression of the Islamic Penal Code Bill.

"However, until the Islamic Penal Code Bill is finalized by the Iranian Parliament and Guardian Council, there is still a danger that the judicial committee’s revisions may not be taken into account.

"The international community must continue to urge the Iranian Government to ensure that the final text of the bill does not include any punishment for apostasy.”