Why is Indonesia’s draft criminal code so controversial? | Politics News

Medan, Indonesia – Indonesia is as soon as once more going through a possible authorized disaster because the passage of its controversial draft prison code – an entire overhaul of the present prison code – appears to be like imminent.

Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej, the deputy legislation and human rights minister, has mentioned that the laws must be handed no later than July this 12 months – though no date has been publicly introduced.

The draft of the brand new code was made public in 2019, triggering demonstrations throughout the nation, a few of which turned violent.

Indonesians have been involved a few vary of articles — from blasphemy to adultery — and nervous that a number of the provisions could be weaponised towards minorities and used to clamp down on civil liberties.

The draft has been up to date since, however the modifications and revisions haven’t been shared in full.

“Indonesia’s draft prison code displays the rising affect of Islamism as many Islamists think about it to be the crown jewel of what they declare to be Sharia legislation,” Andreas Harsono, a researcher at Human Rights Watch Indonesia, advised Al Jazeera.

“It is going to be disastrous not just for girls, and spiritual and gender minorities, however for all Indonesians.”

What’s the draft prison code?

The draft prison code proposes complete modifications to the present Indonesian prison code, generally known as Kitab Undang-undang Hukum Pidana or KUHP, by including, deleting or increasing on its format and content material.

Indonesian president Joko Widodo reads a proclamation standing in front of a row of Indonesian flags
This month, the Authorized Assist Institute and dozens of civil society teams signed an open letter to Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo and the Home of Representatives calling for the most recent draft of the prison code to be made public [File: Willy Kurniawan/Reuters]

The present prison code, which dates again to 1918 through the Dutch colonial interval, was codified and unified in 1946 following Indonesian independence. It’s based mostly on the civil legislation system and is a mixture of Dutch legislation, customary legislation generally known as hukum adat, and fashionable Indonesian legislation, which has been added through the years.

Because of modifications to the present code and additions of payments associated to particular areas of the legislation, such because the Home Violence Invoice and the Well being Regulation, most of the articles within the present code overlap or are contradictory.

Whereas the method to refresh the code started greater than 10 years in the past and has been helmed by plenty of totally different administrations, this newest push has fallen principally to Indonesia’s 49-year-old Hiariej, who’s affectionately generally known as Prof Eddy — due to his credentials as a authorized scholar and his experience in prison legislation.

Why has the most recent draft not been launched to the general public?

Following the discharge of the proposed draft prison code (generally known as RUU KUHP) in September 2019, subsequent up to date variations haven’t been made public in full. Based on the authorities, the brand new draft has not been launched in order to not trigger “unrest” just like that seen in 2019.

The federal government has mentioned, nonetheless, that it has performed “socialisation” periods throughout the nation since September 2019, throughout which stakeholders and members of the general public have been consulted concerning the proposed code and modifications made. However civil rights teams have mentioned that this lacks transparency and is unconstitutional.

“We don’t know why they haven’t launched a full version of the most recent draft nevertheless it’s an issue by way of the Structure and significant participation,” Muhamad Isnur, the top of Indonesia’s Authorized Assist Institute advised Al Jazeera. “It’s a violation of the Structure. Since 2019, variations of the draft have been hidden in order that we don’t know their precise contents.”

On June 8, the Authorized Assist Institute and greater than 80 civil society teams signed an open letter to Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo, popularly generally known as Jokowi, and the Home of Representatives, calling for the most recent draft of the prison code to be made public.

Leonard Simanjuntak, who heads Greenpeace Indonesia, which was one of many signatories of the open letter, advised Al Jazeera that, “Greenpeace has considerations concerning the lack of public participation in the previous few years, whereas now the prison code has been finalised and can have critical penalties for all Indonesian folks if there are nonetheless problematic articles in it.”

Which articles are essentially the most controversial?

On Might 25, the Indonesian Parliament mentioned 14 of essentially the most “essential” articles within the newest version of the draft prison code, together with a desk of the problems and a number of the amendments made following the protests in 2019.

A number of the so-called “essential” articles embrace:


Blasphemy is already against the law in Indonesia, though there have been makes an attempt to scrap the legislation on a couple of event through the years – all of which have failed. Beneath the present draft of the prison code, the definition of the blasphemy legislation is to be expanded and can maintain the present most penalty of 5 years in jail for anybody discovered to have been hostile in the direction of the six religions and faiths which can be formally recognised in Indonesia: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism.


Beneath the proposed draft, non-married {couples} who dwell collectively shall be committing against the law punishable by six months in jail or a high quality, though provided that reported to the police by their dad and mom, kids, or a partner. Critics of the invoice have mentioned that this legislation could possibly be used to focus on members of the LGBTQ neighborhood as same-sex marriage is prohibited in Indonesia.

Beneath a earlier draft of the code, a village head may report single {couples} to the police for cohabitation. This provision has been faraway from the most recent version of the draft.

Students hold a banner that reads "Cancel revision of criminal code law" during the 2019 protests against the new criminal code
College students maintain a banner that reads ‘Cancel revision of prison code legislation’ throughout a 2019 protest outdoors the parliament constructing in Jakarta. The federal government says it has stored the most recent modifications below wraps to keep away from additional ‘unrest’ [File: Adek Berry/AFP]

Intercourse outdoors marriage:

Intercourse earlier than marriage is just not presently unlawful in Indonesia (though adultery is), however the brand new draft code permits dad and mom or kids to report single {couples} to the police if they think them of getting intercourse — one thing that critics have mentioned is a transfer in the direction of ethical policing, and is also used to focus on members of the LGBTQ neighborhood. Each intercourse earlier than marriage and adultery shall be punishable by as much as a 12 months in jail or a high quality below the brand new draft prison code.

Another modifications?

Beneath the most recent version of the draft prison code, the dying penalty – normally handed down for offences reminiscent of terrorism, homicide and drug trafficking – is now listed as a sentence of “final resort”. It’s going to additionally carry a proposed probation interval of 10 years, after which the sentence may be commuted to a life sentence if the particular person is discovered to have proven regret and reformed.

The brand new draft code nonetheless criminalises girls who’ve abortions (with a possible jail time period of so long as 4 years), nevertheless it does enable for the process in instances of a medical emergency or if the being pregnant is the results of rape, so long as the being pregnant is of lower than 12 weeks gestation. The revision brings the code into line with Indonesia’s Well being Regulation of 2009.

What is going to occur after the brand new prison code is handed?

Specialists say that even with the revisions, there may nonetheless be a backlash when the brand new code is handed.

Berlian Simarmata, a lecturer in prison legislation at Santo Thomas Catholic College in Medan, advised Al Jazeera that criticism may come from a number of totally different sources, which can be why the draft has not been launched in full.

“If we take the LGBT neighborhood for instance, spiritual teams will not be happy if there aren’t passages within the new legislation that particularly make being homosexual against the law, so the federal government could possibly be nervous concerning the draft from either side,” he mentioned.

Women in Indonesia take part in a trade union protest against the new jobs law
Commerce unions got here out to protest towards the Job Creation Regulation this month. The unions challenged the legislation after it was handed and it was then dominated ‘unconstitutional’ by the Constitutional Courtroom [Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana/Reuters]

The prison code may be challenged within the Constitutional Courtroom whether it is thought-about that it didn’t observe the right process earlier than it was handed, together with searching for related and clear public participation.

Labour unions challenged Indonesia’s Jobs Creation Regulation (UU Cipta Kerja) in the same method after it was handed in October 2020, and the legislation was deemed “unconstitutional” in November 2021 with the federal government given two years to repair the laws or threat it changing into completely invalid.

Nevertheless, Isnur of the Authorized Assist Institute says such an strategy exhibits that the federal government has “no disgrace”.

“Due to its energy, the federal government thinks that it will probably problem residents to a authorized battle. It simply exhibits their vanity and totalitarianism,” he mentioned.