Senior officials have confirmed that Indonesia is planning to ratify sweeping changes to its criminal code on Tuesday. This will be part of a legal overhaul that critics say has the potential to roll back hard-won democratic freedoms and police morality in Indonesia, which is located in Southeast Asia.
The articles that would outlaw cohabitation between unmarried couples, insulting the president, and expressing views that are contrary to the national ideology known as the Pancasila are some of the most contentious proposed changes to the penal code. The proposed amendments would carry a maximum sentence of one year in prison for engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage. According to statements made to Reuters on Monday by Sufmi Dasco Ahmad, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Bambang Wuryanto, the Head of the Parliamentary Commission Overseeing the Revision, the legislative body will hold a plenary session on Tuesday in order to ratify the new code.
The House of Representatives and the government have reached an agreement on the draught code, which removes one of the obstacles in the way of its passage. The revision of the country’s colonial-era penal code has sparked mass protests in recent years, although the response has been considerably more muted this year than in previous years. This revision has been in the works for decades.
There were going to be demonstrations all over the country in September 2019 in response to what people saw as a threat to their civil liberties, but those plans were scrapped because of the demonstrations. Since then, legislators in the world’s third-largest democracy have watered down some of the articles that were considered to be the most controversial.
Complaints about sexual activity outside of marriage and cohabitation, for instance, can now only be filed by close relatives like a spouse, parent, or child, whereas complaints about insulting the president can only be filed by the president himself. However, legal professionals and organisations representing civil society say that the proposed changes do not go far enough.
According to Bivitri Susanti, an expert in law from the University of Indonesia, the country of Indonesia has taken a significant step backwards with the adoption of this criminal code. She asserted that “the state cannot manage morality” in her statement. It is not the role of the government to serve as a referee between Indonesia’s conservative and liberal camps.
According to her, legally problematic articles include those on customary law, blasphemy, protesting without notification, and expressing views that are different from the Pancasila. These articles have the potential to be interpreted in a variety of ways. The new code won’t go into effect until after three years have passed, during which time the government and other related institutions will be drafting the related implementing regulations.