The parliament of the Aceh region in Indonesia is set to vote on a law that would reaffirm and establish legal punishments that are based on the Sharia. Included in this legislation are provisions that would make acts like same sex relations and adultery punishable by 100 lashes with a cane. Additionally, actions like gambling, consuming alcohol and public displays of affection between unmarried couples will be reaffirmed as crimes that can be punished with caning.
Along with applying this brutal form of medieval law to Muslims, this bill will also make it so non-Muslims can be held to the standards of the Sharia. This makes the proposed system of law not only draconian, but also intolerant of the beliefs and religious liberty of Aceh’s minority groups.
The canings are often carried out in public and the idea is not just to punish the individual with physical pain, but also to humiliate them in front of the community. Last Friday, the government of Aceh punished eight men with a caning for the crime of gambling. The spectacle/punishment was performed in front of a crowd of about 1,000 people, many of which were cheering and filming as the men were punished.
The part of this story that is really shocking is that this version of the law is actually more humane than the version that they had previously passed in 2009. Under the 2009 draft of the law, the crime of adultery would have been punishable by death to be carried out by stoning. The Provincial Governor later overturned the law after it attracted outrage from the international community.
In a report from the AFP, the head of the commission that drafted the law, Ramli Sulaiman, stated, “We have studied the implementation of Sharia in countries like Saudi Arabia, Brunei Darussalam and Jordan to draft this law and we are happy with it.”
While this law could be in action as soon as Monday, there are many in the international community and in Indonesia that claim the law violates human rights and that it is even a violation of the Indonesian constitution. If these concerns are true, it means that the Indonesian government would have the right to overturn the law, even though Aceh is an autonomous region.