Aceh’s New Bylaw Could Be Quashed in The Courts

The central government would ask the Supreme Court to overturn a controversial new bylaw in Aceh mandating that adulterers be stoned to death if it’s found to be against national laws or the Constitution, the minister for home affairs said on Wednesday. Mardiyanto told a press conference that his ministry and the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights would examine the bylaw, endorsed on Monday by Aceh’s provincial legislature, and would request a judicial review if the bylaw was inappropriate. “I have heard that many people disagree with the law so [we] may propose a judicial review,” he told reporters. The minister said that while the Aceh Legislative Council passed the bylaw — called Qanun Jinayah — Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf’s government has said they do not support the law and they would not enforce its harsh punishments. The new bylaw also mandates that residents of Aceh could receive 100 lashes for engaging in sex out of wedlock, up to 400 lashes for child rape, 100 lashes for homosexual acts and 60 lashes for gambling. “Did the Governor approve? If not, then it is [a sign against] the Qanun,” he said, adding that the legislative council might consider revising the bylaw by addressing human rights concerns. Mardiyanto also noted that Aceh was still undergoing a rehabilitation period after a protracted 29-year civil war between separatist guerrillas and the Armed Forces, as well as the 2004 tsunami that killed more than 177,000 people in the province. “Investors are setting their eyes on Aceh, and if the Qanun law makes people uneasy, that’s counterproductive,” he said. He also said the central government needed a clear mechanism to decide what as legally permissible in Aceh, which had widespread regional autonomy but is still subject to Indonesian national law.

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