Moses Ompusunggu, Jakarta – The Jakarta-based Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) has slammed a recent court ruling that sentenced non-active Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama to two years behind bars in a blasphemy case, saying it could become a bad precedent as it was based on "irrelevant" laws.
The rights group said in a statement on Thursday that the North Jakarta District Court's move to use a blasphemy law in ruling the case against Ahok, a Christian of Chinese descent, was proof that the law could be used to pressure and discriminate minority groups.
The group added that Criminal Code's (KUHP) Article 156 (a), which was used to sentence Ahok, had been widely considered as "problematic."
"[This blasphemy article] is problematic because it has been frequently used to criminalize a group or individuals seen as 'different' by others," the HRWG said.
The group also called on the government and the House of Representatives to revise Article 156 (a) of the Criminal Code as well as the 1965 Blasphemy Law, which has also been used by Indonesian courts as a legal basis in ruling a number of blasphemy prosecutions.
The Constitutional Court previously rejected a judicial review request against Article 156 (a) and the 1965 Blasphemy Law, although it acknowledged these two regulations were problematic.
In Tuesday's hearing, the North Jakarta District Court stated that based on evidence and testimonies heard throughout the trial, all criminal elements of Ahok's blasphemy charges were fulfilled. (ebf)