- Under proposed changes to Indonesia's Criminal Code, people guilty of
adultery, living together outside of wedlock or engaged in black magic could be
jailed for years and receive hefty fines. Harsher sentences would promote
greater "morality" in public life and punish behaviour deemed "un-Islamic". Critics
counter that such changes are simply another example of the state interfering
in the private life of people and that they could lead to unsubstantiated legal
The revised 500-page
document is intended to modernise the 1918 Criminal Code, which was last
updated in 1958. Currently, the Code lacks provisions against witchcraft
or black magic but under its revised version, those found guilty of using black
magic would face up to five years in jail or up to 300 million rupiah (US$
30,000) in fines. Out of respect for tribal traditions and customs, "white",
i.e. good magic would remain legal.
The revised Criminal
Code is also set to crack down on un-Islamic sexual mores, first and foremost
adultery but also living together out of wedlock.
At present, common law
relationships are not illegal in Indonesia, but once changes are adopted,
couples could get a maximum sentence of one year in prison.
Adultery is already illegal.
However, under the new rules, couples could get up to five years behind bars
against the current nine months.
The revised document
was submitted to lawmakers on Wednesday and must pass through the People's
Representative Council before it becomes law.
This is not the first
time that the world's most populous Muslim nation has made the headlines because
of its laws and rules. In the past, proposals to outlaw smoking, ban women from
wearing jeans and prevent people from practicing yoga have proven controversial
and generated criticism. This is even more so in some parts of the country,
The proposed changes to
the Criminal Code would have a major impact on society, giving the state the
right to interfere in people's private life. At the same time, the desire to
enforce greater morality would be open to abuses.