Indonesian lawmakers unanimously passed a sweeping new criminal code on Tuesday December 6 that criminalizes sex outside marriage, as a part of a tranche of changes that critics say threaten human rights and freedoms in the Southeast Asian country.
The new code, which also applies to foreign citizens and tourists, bans cohabitation earlier than marriage, apostasy, and offers punishments for insulting the president or expressing views counter to the national ideology.
“All have agreed to ratify the (draft changes) into law,” said lawmaker Bambang Wuryanto, who led the parliamentary commission in charge of revising the colonial-era code. “The old code belongs to Dutch heritage … and is no longer relevant.”
The world’s largest Muslim-majority country, Indonesia has seen an upward push in non secular conservatism in latest years. Strict Islamic laws are already enforced in elements of the country, consisting of the semi-autonomous Aceh province, in which alcohol and gambling are banned. Public floggings additionally take region in the location for various offenses including homosexuality and adultery.
The modifications to the criminal code have now not most effective alarmed human rights advocates, who warned in their capacity to stifle private freedoms, but also travel industry representatives – who worried about their potential effect on tourism.
According to the united states’s Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly, it wasn’t clean for a multicultural and multi-ethnic country to make a criminal code that “contains all pastimes.”
He stated he hoped that Indonesians understood that lawmakers had completed everything they could to house “public aspiration,” and invited disillusioned parties to post a judicial review to the constitutional court.
Rights groups and critics warned that the new code would “disproportionately impact women” and further curtail human rights and freedoms in the country of more than 270 million people.
“What we’re witnessing is a huge setback to Indonesia’s hard-won progress in protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms after the 1998 revolution. This criminal code should have never been passed in the first place,” said Usman Hamid, executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia.
Interestingly, the brand new criminal code runs to two hundred pages and has been years in the making.
A preceding draft become set to be passed in 2019 but the vote became postponed after thousands of protesters, mostly students, took to the streets disturbing the authorities to withdraw it.
Under the version passed on Tuesday, sex out of marriage includes a maximum one-yr jail term even though there a regulations on who can lodge a formal grievance.
As nicely as introducing new offenses, the code also expands on existing laws and punishments. Blasphemy laws have multiplied from “one to 6 provisions” and may now lead to a most five-yr jail sentence, in line with a draft document.
Also, laws on insulting the Indonesia’s leaders and unsanctioned protests can have a “chilling impact” on unfastened speech.
The reinstatement of provisions banning insults to the president and vice president, the sitting authorities in addition to kingdom institutions would further create a palpable chilling effect on freedom of speech and criminalize valid criticisms.
Human Rights Watch Indonesia Researcher Andreas Harsono said the legal guidelines are “a setback for already declining religious freedom in Indonesia,” caution they may be misused to target positive individuals.
“The danger of oppressive laws is not that they’ll be broadly applied, it’s that they provide avenue for selective enforcement,” he said.
But the laws are expected to trouble the business community, especially those who regularly host and cater for foreign nationals and tourists.
“If these laws are really implemented later, tourists might be (subjected) to jail and this will harm tourism,” he said.