The Aceh provincial government will not sign the controversial Islamic bylaw allowing adulterers to be stoned to death, an official said.
Hamid Zein, the head of the legal bureau of the Aceh governor’s office, said Thursday that the administration has firmly rejected the bylaw passed by the legislative council on Monday.
“As long as the executive and legislative bodies do not settle differences in the application of [capital punishment by] stoning, the Aceh government will not sign the bylaw,” Hamid said.
In the deliberation he said government representatives had repeatedly stated objections to the inclusion of the stoning penalty for adulterers in the Islamic criminal code (jinayat). Aceh is the country’s only province with special provisions allowing it to have Islamic sharia-based laws.
However, following initial endorsement of the bylaw, Home Minister Mardiyanto said the government would file a review to the Supreme Court, saying it was “detrimental” to Acehnese and would “frighten” visitors and investors, as well as possibly not respecting the [national] constitution.
His statement signaled the first time the central government had intervened in the issuance of rules and legislation by the Aceh administration and council.
The National Commission on Violence against Women has gone further, calling for a judicial review of the 2006 law on Aceh’s governance that provided its authority to issue sharia-based laws, saying that the bylaw was contrary to human rights.
Governor Irwandi Yusuf on Thursday declined to comment.
“The administration’s stance is clear, it’s better for me not to comment now,” he said in a text message.
Earlier his deputy Muhammad Nazar among others said the government sought a “more educational” penalty than stoning.
Aceh’s ulema said it was the government’s obligation to sign the bylaw, or qanun. Faisal Ali, secretary general of the Aceh Association of Ulema (HUDA), said the bylaw was formulated by legal experts on Islam, and that there was nothing to fear from it.
Regarding the capital punishment by stoning for adulterers, both Muslim or non Muslim, he said the requirements were very strict.
“The implementation of the stoning penalty is not easy and needs four witnesses with strict requirements, such as being honest and proven to have a clean track record, he said. With consistent implementation of the criminal code, he said, there would be no need for the stoning penalty.
“If the government does not sign the bylaw there could be a backlash,” Faisal said.
Besides, he said, the criminal code has already accommodated international conventions, such as those pertaining to the protection of women and children.
Among laws and conventions referred to as the basis of the bylaw is the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women.
The bylaw’s section on its rationale includes among other reasons public “euphoria”, referring to at least 20 cases of “people’s trials” since 1999, mainly regarding assault but including parading of unmarried couples caught together, or people caught gambling or consuming alcohol. One of the bylaw’s purposes is to avoid such occurrences, the explanatory section says.