Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Promoting tolerance and justice through knowledge and understanding
Amnesty International


Amnesty International USA
November 8, 2005

Note: Please write on behalf of this person even though you
may not have received the original UA when issued on
December 10, 2004. Thanks!

Further Information on UA 332/04 issued 10 December 2004
and re-issued 11 January 2005
Fear of imminent execution/ fear of flogging

Leyla Mafi is no longer facing the death penalty for ''morality-
related'' offences. However, she still faces a sentence of flogging,
and three and a half years in prison. Amnesty International
opposes the use of flogging as a judicial punishment, and
considers it to be cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment
amounting to torture.

In a verdict issued on 27 March, which was not made public
until June, the Supreme Court overturned the death sentence
issued in 2004, but upheld a sentence of flogging. As a result of
the Supreme Court's decision, the case was sent back to the
Court of First Instance in the central city of Arak for a retrial.

In October 2005, the presiding judge of Branch 104 of the
General Court of Arak acquitted Leyla Mafi of the charge of
incest (which carried the death penalty), and of controlling a
brothel, on the grounds that she had made contradictory
''confessions''. However, she was convicted under Article 637of
the Penal Code of an ''unchaste act with next of kin (other than
fornication)'', and was sentenced to receive 99 lashes, to be
carried out at the headquarters of the Justice Department in Arak.
Amnesty International does not know if this sentence has yet
been carried out.

Leyla Mafi was also sentenced to three-and-a-half years'
imprisonment by the court in Arak for ''providing the facilities
for corruption and prostitution by being available for sexual
acts''. The judge also ordered that following the completion of
her prison sentence, she should reside for six months in a
women's rehabilitation center.

According to newspaper reports, Leyla Mafi was forced into
prostitution by her mother when she was eight years old, and was
raped repeatedly thereafter. She gave birth to her first child when
she was nine, and was sentenced to 100 lashes for prostitution at
around the same time. At the age of 14 she became pregnant
again, and received a further 100 lashes for prostitution.

In May 2004 it was reported that Leyla Mafi had been sentenced
to flogging and death on charges of ''acts contrary to chastity'' by
controlling a brothel, having intercourse with blood relatives and
giving birth to an illegitimate child. A newspaper report on 28
November 2004 claimed that tests carried out by social workers
have repeatedly shown her to have a mental age of eight.
However, she had been tried and sentenced to death solely on the
basis of her explicit confessions, without being examined by
court-appointed doctors and without consideration of her
background or mental health. On 26 December, Foreign Ministry
officials announced that the issue of her mental capacity had
been referred to the relevant bodies for investigation. The
outcome of this investigation is not known.

Amnesty International welcomes the fact that Leyla Mafi's death
sentence has been overturned but remains concerned that Iran
continues to impose death sentences for adultery and fornication,
despite having made an explicit and unreserved commitment
under article 6(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights (ICCPR) that it will impose the death sentence
''only for the most serious crimes''. The UN Human Rights
Committee (in the case of Toonen v Australia) has made it clear
that treating adultery and fornication as criminal offences does
not comply with international human rights standards.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive
as quickly as possible:
- welcoming the news that Leyla Mafi's death sentence has been
overturned, but expressing concern that she faces a sentence of
- stating that you consider the use of flogging as punishment to
be cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment amounting to torture,
contrary to Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, which states: ''No one shall be subjected to torture or to
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment'';
- calling for Leyla Mafi's flogging sentence to be commuted;
- reminding the authorities that imposing death sentences for
crimes such as adultery and fornication violates Iran's explicit
and unreserved commitment under article 6(2) of the ICCPR to
impose the death sentence ''only for the most serious of crimes''.