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Human rights groups slam tougher Islamic laws in Aceh

Jakarta Post - October 23, 2015

Human rights groups criticize the implementation of a tougher version of the Qanun Jinayat – Aceh's Islamic Criminal Bylaw, which takes effect Friday – and call on the central government to push for change.

Ismail Hasani, the research director at the human rights advocacy group Setara Institute, said that even though a province that holds special autonomy like Aceh has the right to have its own regulations, it must not contradict the higher law and the Constitution.

Setara sees Qanun Jinayat as a violation of people's Constitutional rights and basic human rights.

"The implementation of Qanun Jinayat in Aceh is an institutionalized form of discrimination and inhuman punishment. The central government must not allow such legal discrimination to take place," he told thejakartapost.com on Friday, criticizing the public shaming that follows punishment.

Moreover, Ismail acknowledged that political arguments that defend Aceh's special autonomy status would be used to support the new bylaws. "It shows that politics is more important in deciding these issues than the legal arguments," he said.

Seperately, Hendra Saputra, coordinator of the Aceh office of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), said that civil society would closely watch the Acehnese administration to prevent any outlandish implementations of these bylaws.

"We will monitor the implementation, because we are worried about any mishandling such as in the arrest process," he told thejakartapost.com.

Hendra said the Acehnese government should enforce laws firmly so that there would be no civilians involved in the arrest or the punishment process. Only the authorities should enforce the laws, he said.

He also expressed his concern for impunity received by local officials in violating the Qanun. "There are cases of Qanun violations by state officials but no legal measures taken against them," he said without giving details.

The Aceh Legislative Council (DPRA) passed a bylaw on Qanun Jinayat in September last year. After a year of promotion by the Aceh administration, the bylaw took full effect on Friday.

Syahrizal Abas, the head of the province's Islamic sharia office, told kompas.com on Thursday that the new Qanun would compliment the old one that only addressed violations concerning alcohol consumption, gambling and unmarried couples being alone together.

Qanun Jinayat included additional violations and harsher punishments for adultery, homosexuality, intimacy outside of marriage, accusing people of adultery without any witnesses, sexual harassment and rape. It also stipulates a maximum of 100 lashes for violators. (rin)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/10/23/human-rights-groups-slam-tougher-islamic-laws-aceh.html