Stoning, Caning Are Now the Law in Aceh, Local Legislator Says
18 Oct 2009
Banda Aceh: October 17, 2009. (Jakarta Globe) A controversial bill that includes a provision for the stoning to death of adulterers is now officially law, even without the signature of the Aceh governor, a local councilor said on Thursday.
The draft of the Qanun Jinayat Code, a set of bylaws that replaces elements of the Criminal Code with Shariah provisions for Muslims, was endorsed by the Aceh Legislative Council on Sept. 14.
The measures call for the stoning of adulterers and 100 lashes for anyone caught engaging in premarital sex, among its other punishments.
The ratification of the bill has been sharply criticized by human rights activists, and Governor Irwandi Yusuf reportedly refused to sign it into law.
Moharriadi Syafari, a councilor from the Muslim-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), said the main reason for the law was to “save” people in Aceh from acts not approved by religion.
“Human rights activists should not see the Qanun Jinayat from a narrow-minded perspective, as though it breaches human rights, because basically Islamic law has a high respect for human rights,” Syafari said.
He said the bill automatically became law 30 days after being endorsed by the council despite the governor’s refusal to endorse the measure.
“Just because the Qanun Jinayat has been passed, it doesn’t mean a lot of people will be stoned in Aceh,” Syafari said. “It’s very difficult to prove adultery. Even if a person admits they committed adultery, they will not automatically be stoned.”
He said it would take about a year before the law was implemented because various legal instruments need to be prepared and the government had to promote awareness of the new law.
“It is the Aceh government’s job to make the public aware of the law while also improving public welfare,” Syafari said. “We hope these two things can be done simultaneously.”
Abdul Hamid Zein, a spokesman for the Aceh administration, said the governor refused to sign the law because of his objection to stoning.
“The Aceh administration already sent a letter to the council to inform it of the governor’s refusal to sign the law,” he said. “We ask for the board to review the law.”
Zein agreed the Qanun Jinayat draft would come into effect even without the governor’s signature, but said the administration would still seek a review by the central government.
Saut Situmorang, a Ministry of Home Affairs spokesman, said the central government had the authority to supervise regional laws.
“Regional bylaw must be approved by the legislative council and the regional authority, in Aceh’s case the governor,” he said. “We will see if the approval is valid.”
Meanwhile, Norma Manalu, who represents a coalition of human rights nongovernmental organizations, said most people in Aceh were either unaware of the law or did not fully understand its implications.
“Mass media in Aceh only announced the law after it was passed by the legislative council,” she said. “Most people don’t know about the law.”