Tehran has amended the Iranian penal code, effectively banning the use of stoning as a method of execution and the execution of minors. However, there are loopholes open to clerical interpretation.
In response to international criticism over Tehran's policy of executing juvenile offenders, the guardian council that ensures judicial punishments are compliant with sharia law, has introduced amendments to the penal code. The reforms are set to be implemented once President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has signed them into law.
TheFTreported that Tehran will end the death penalty for juveniles, in addition to banning death by stoning, a death sentence that has caused international outrage. When the amendments come into effect adulterers will still be sentenced to death, but it may be by hanging, rather than stoning. The exact method of punishment has not been established but Ahmadinejad is aware of the negative image which ensues from using stoning as an execution method. According to the Telegraph at least 99 people have been stoned to death in Iran since 1980.
Even with the planned amendment juveniles will still receive the death sentence for murder. Also some death sentences of minors will be at the open to the subjective judgment of the judge. According to the Guardian the law is not clear cut, but down to clerical interpretation. Thus judges can still apply the death sentence in cases that are "considered to be 'claims of God' and therefore have mandatory sentences (such as sodomy, rape, theft, fornication, apostasy and consumption of alcohol for the third time)." However, judges will not be able to apply the death sentence in the cases of minors in none mandatory cases such as drug offences.
The Guardian also cites another change in the law pertaining to homosexuality: "Sodomy for men was punishable by death for all individuals involved in consensual sexual intercourse, but under the new amendments the person who played an active role will be flogged 100 times if the sex was consensual and he was not married, but the one who played a passive role will still be put to death regardless of his marriage status."
The amendments also fail to clarify the legal age of a minor, though in most cases capital crimes that are committed by children under the age of 18, result in the child remaining on death row until they are executed at age 18.