Indonesia’s parliament has adopted a new penal code that includes a provision that punishes extramarital sex with imprisonment. The Code applies to both Indonesian citizens and foreign tourists. The amendment also introduces a ban on cohabitation for unmarried couples.
The new penal code was adopted today, December 6, by a parliamentary majority. “We have tried our best to take into account the important issues and different opinions that have been debated. However, the time has come for us to make a historic decision to amend the penal code and leave behind the penal code we inherited from colonial times, said Yasonna Laoly, Justice and Justice Minister, in parliament. human rights.
To jail for extramarital sex
According to the act, extramarital and premarital sex will be punishable by imprisonment for up to one year, and only a limited group of people can report it to law enforcement authorities. Before the vote, spokesman for the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, Albert Aries, said that only spouses, parents and children would be able to do so. He also stated that the new penal code would protect the institution of marriage.
The amendment also introduces a ban on cohabitation for couples who are not married, a ban apostasy, also provides for penalties for insulting the president or expressing views contrary to national ideology. The Code is intended to apply to both citizens Indonesiaas well as people from abroad. “We are proud to have a penal code that is in line with Indonesian values,” Indonesian Deputy Justice Minister Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej told Reuters a few days ago.
A big step back
Human rights organizations emphasize that the amendment to the code is a step towards fundamentalism. – We’re backing off. The repressive law should be abolished. The amendment to the code shows that the arguments raised by scholars from abroad are true. Our democracy is clearly failing, said Usman Hamid, director Amnesty International India. According to Elaine Pearson, director of Human Rights Watch Asia, “this is a huge step backwards for a country that wanted to present itself as a modern Muslim democracy.”
Andreas Harsano from the same organization noted that in Indonesia, millions of couples live without formalizing their relationship, especially among indigenous people or Muslims in rural areas, because they got married in specific religious ceremonies. “Theoretically, they will break the law, because living together is punishable by six months in prison,” he noted.
In turn, Nurina Savitri from Amnesty International Indonesia stressed a few days ago that there are articles in the code that can be used to suppress disobedience. “There are at least 88 articles in it, containing provisions that can be misused and misinterpreted by both the authorities and the public to criminalize those who express their opinions or exercise their right to peaceful assembly and association,” she noted.
What about tourists
Business representatives, however, warn that changes in the law may damage Indonesia’s image as a country willingly visited by tourists, and weaken the inflow of investments. Indonesia is the largest economy in Southeast Asia. “For the business sector, the implementation of the code will create legal uncertainty and make investors reconsider spending in Indonesia,” said Shinta Widjaja Sukamdani, vice president of the Indonesian Employers’ Association.
Opponents of the code protest
The new penal code was supposed to be passed in 2019, but it sparked protests in the country. Tens of thousands of people demonstrated against the restriction of civil liberties. “(The Code) is dangerous not only because of the threat of punishment, but it can also give the right (authorities) to surveillance the public,” said Muhamad Isnur, president of the Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation, before the bill was adopted. Opponents of the new law have taken to the streets again since yesterday and gathered in front of the parliament building. Another meeting is scheduled for today.
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The Guardian, Reuters, BBC
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