National

House, government set to
revise ‘colonial’ Criminal
Code

After 49 years, the House of Representatives and the government will begin considering revisions to the outdated Criminal Code (KUHP) and Criminal Code Procedures (KUHAP).

The House has agreed to work on updating the existing KUHP and KUHAP, which many say are nothing but copies of colonial laws. “KUHAP and KUHP are the legacy of the Dutch colonial administration. They are no longer relevant and should be revised,” House’s legal affairs commission member, Ahmad Kurdi Moekri, said as quoted by Antara.

The government, represented by the Law and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsuddin, submitted the new bills on Wednesday.

Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) lawmaker Indra said the work would begin soon. “We plan to start to discuss them on March 18,” he said, claiming not to have read the draft bills and refusing to comment their content. “Clearly, the PKS agrees and supports revision of the existing code as it is out-of-date and unable to meet the current
conditions.”

While the KUHP bill should modernize the country’s positive law, it contains articles that will sound medieval to some.

Article 293 Paragraph 1 of the draft bill stipulates that a person who declares himself to have magic powers may face a maximum of five years in prison or pay a maximum of Rp 300 million (US$30,969) in fines. The same applies to those who inform, encourage or offer such magic services to others.

The article is intended to address public anxiety about black magic which can be difficult to prove before the law. The draft also stipulates a provision to prevent and to end vigilantism against a person allegedly practicing witchcraft or black magic and bans people from taking profit from such practices, saying that they may face additional penalty of one-third the initial sentence.

Moreover, the draft also imposes a more stern punishment for extra-marital affairs. Under the Article 483, those involved in extra-marital sexual activities may face a maximum of five years inside. Under the existing Code, the maximum penalty is nine-months imprisonment.

The draft also forbids cohabitation. “Everyone who lived together as husband and wife outside a legal marriage shall be sentenced to a maximum one year imprisonment or may be ordered to pay a maximum fine of Rp 30 million,” Article 485 of the KUHP bill says.

Monitoring and advocacy director of the Center for Policy and Law Studies (PSHK) Ronald Rofiandi doubted the House would be able to deliberate the law soon.

“The materials of the draft are plenty. It consists more than 500 articles. Strong discipline is needed in discussing it,” he said.

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