Hotli Simanjuntak, Banda Aceh – The sharia-based provincial government of Aceh has issued a gubernatorial regulation ending the practice of caning convicts in public.
Under the new regulation, issued on Feb. 28, the punishment can only be administered behind closed doors to prevent them from being witnessed by children or recorded and spread online, according to Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf.
The Aceh administration and the Law and Human Rights Ministry signed on Thursday a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to implement the new regulation. Under the MoU, caning will now be conducted in prisons.
"For a long time, canings have been witnessed by children because they are conducted in public," Irwandi said.
Public canings are administered as punishment for people found guilty of violating the province's sharia bylaws, including adultery, gambling and homosexuality.
News of such lashings often makes global headlines, prompting concerns that the practice would only foster Islamophobia and deter investors from coming to the province.
As the only Indonesian province to implement Islamic Law, Aceh, whose official name is Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, has its own version of the Criminal Code (KUHP) called Qanun Jinayat, which regulates public canings.
According to Qanun Jinayat, canings must be conducted in public so that they can be witnessed by residents, with the aim of creating a deterrent effect and prevent people from committing crimes punishable by lashings.
Under the new regulation, Irwandi said, only adults would be allowed to witness the punishment. Viewers are prohibited from bringing cameras or any kind of recording device to the venue, he added.
"This also serves as legal protection for the convict. Imagine if a caning is uploaded onto YouTube or other social media platforms, the convict would carry that shame for the rest of his or her life," said Irwandi. (mos/ahw)