The Jakarta Post
A total of 34 people were caned in public in Banda Aceh and Jantho, Aceh Besar, on Friday for violating sharia.
While most of the people were convicted of violating Qanun (bylaw) No. 13 on gambling, others, including four women, had violated Qanun No. 14/2003 on khalwat (affectionate contact between an unmarried couple).
One convict was spared caning on Friday as she had recently given birth by caesarean section.
'She'll be caned once she's recovered,' said Banda Aceh Prosecutor's Office head Husni Thamrin.
Eighteen convicts were caned at Baitussalihin Mosque in Ulee Kareng, Banda Aceh, while 16 were caned at Al Munawarah Mosque in Jantho.
In Ule Kareng, four pairs of convicts, identified as RAH and NSW, ZUL and LIS, RIA and RM and FAH and YUN, were sentenced to six to seven strokes of the cane for violating Qanun No. 14, though some served jail time in return for fewer strokes.
The other 10 convicts, identified as KM, MA, SY, CN, AH, IM, SY, MA, DR and D were caned for gambling.
In Jantho, all 16 offenders were sentenced for violating Qanun No. 13, each receiving between six and eight strokes of the cane.
On average, the convicts had served between two and three months in jail, with each month served equalling one stroke of the cane fewer.
The head of Banda Aceh City Sharia Police's sharia and law enforcement section, Evendi A. Latif, said that all the convicts had undergone trials at the Banda Aceh Prosecutor's Office.
'The canings today follow court rulings,' Evendi said.
Before the canings were conducted, an officer from the Banda Aceh Prosecutor's Office read out one-by-one the names of the convicts and their respective crimes. A medical team also checked the offenders' health before they were caned.
The corporal punishment was carried out on a stage erected by the sharia police in order to allow and encourage public viewing.
'Punishing [miscreants] in front of a crowd has a strong deterrent effect,' said Banda Aceh Mayor Illiza Sa'adudin Djamal, who was present at the public punishment.
Illiza called on the community not to ostracize the offenders, but to welcome them and help them back onto the right path.
'The public needs to support and supervise the convicts to help them return to the straight and narrow,' she said in a speech.
Friday's canings represented the largest number of offenders to be caned on a single day since Aceh introduced sharia.
The province is the only part of Indonesia that implements the Islamic justice code, and it is rare for a month to go by without Aceh's municipal and regency administrations inflicting corporal punishment on violators.
Amnesty International has repeatedly urged Indonesia to repeal laws in Aceh that allow the use of caning as a punishment, which the group insists is a violation of human rights.
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