National

52 lawmakers plan European
junket to study black magic
laws

In another example of the House of Representatives’ laser-like focus on the nation’s problems, 52 lawmakers are planning several European trips to examine laws on black magic and cohabitation, among other things.

The lawmakers and eight staffers involved in revising the Criminal Code (KUHP) will visit France, the Netherlands, Russia and the UK to examine how those nations have developed similar laws.

The enormous delegation — comprising just under 10 percent of the House — will travel for five days from April 14 to 19. The junket’s price tag travel has been tipped at Rp 6.5 billion (US$667,212), according to the Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (FITRA), a state budget watchdog.

Lawmakers and the central government will soon begin deliberations to the Criminal Code, which observers have said needs to be revised and updated.

The draft revision, however, has drawn criticism for containing articles deemed invasive or irrational, such as outlawing black magic (ilmu hitam).

Article 293 of the bill stipulates that individuals who claim to practice or who encourage the practice of ilmu hitam can be sentenced to up to five years’ imprisonment or to pay a fine of Rp 300 million. The article would also provide penalties for those who practice it for financial gain.

Meanwhile, other articles would set a maximum sentence of one year’s imprisonment and a fine of Rp 30 million for unmarried couples who live together and a sentence of five years’ imprisonment for adultery, up from a current maximum sentence of nine months.

Lawmakers said that they would seek input from the experience of their European peers in regulating witchcraft.

“Black magic is a part of witchcraft, which has existed everywhere, including in Europe, for a long time,” lawmaker Achmad Dimyati Natakusumah from the United Development Party (PPP) said on Friday. “Many people believe in black magic. That’s why we need to regulate it to avoid communal judgment, for example.”

Dimyati, one of 13 lawmakers slated to go to the UK, said that he was confident he could learn something from the English about witchcraft, which he described as a common practice in the country ages ago.

Lawmakers have defended the junket despite criticism and that they have not begun deliberations on the bill.

Indra, a lawmaker from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), said that ilmu hitam was a problem that needed to be addressed as it might cause problems in the society, while unregulated cohabitation and adultery could damage the nation’s moral values.

Other lawmakers, such as Eva Kusuma Sundari from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), have said that such provisions need not be included in the revised Criminal Code.

However, Eva defended the junket to Europe, saying that the comparative study would provide input for lawmakers as they revise the bill. “We have chosen to go to those countries to learn about their common law and civil law
approaches.”

“However, I definitely will not raise irrational issues, including those on ilmu hitam, because it’s just ridiculous to even think about it,” Eva added.

Revising the Criminal Code remains contentious, as the KUHP is the basis for all the nation’s laws and regulations. Some have called the House to return the current draft to the government for revision to ensure it complies with universal human rights.

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