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Jakarta Post

House to finish deliberating controversial Criminal Code revisions in one week

  • Ghina Ghaliya
    Ghina Ghaliya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, April 3, 2020   /   06:53 am
House to finish deliberating controversial Criminal Code revisions in one week Thousands of university students gather in front of the House of Representatives complex in Central Jakarta to protest against what they claim are attempts to roll back the country's political reforms. (JP/Ghina Ghaliya)

The House of Representatives has set a target of one week to resolve the problematic revisions to the Criminal Code (KUHP) and the 1995 Correctional Facility Law during the COVID-19 pandemic.

House deputy speaker Azis Syamsuddin, who is also a member of the House Commission III overseeing legal affairs, said the Commission's chairs had requested the bills be passed after a week of deliberations.

"We [House leadership] have coordinated with the Commission III leaders. They requested a week to deliberate the bill before handing it to the plenary session," Azis said while chairing a plenary session on Thursday at the House building in Senayan, Central Jakarta.

The Golkar Party politician, however, did not mention whether the Commission III would pick up where the previous batch of lawmakers had finished their discussions or open a new page on the Criminal Code revisions. The previous House lawmakers who ended their terms in October last year had begun deliberating the bills but a public outcry and massive street protests had halted the process. The protesters argued that the bills would threaten democracy and curtail civil rights.

Rights activists criticized the House, saying they should not take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to rush deliberations and dismiss public participation.

Activists from the National Alliance for the Reform of the Criminal Code said the government and the House should not use the pandemic as an opportunity to discuss and ratify the problematic bills.

The alliance noted that the final draft of the Criminal Code still included many controversial articles that would over-criminalize common practices, including articles to restore a ban on insulting the President that had been repealed by the Constitutional Court, as well as stipulations on morality that criminalize, among other things, consensual sex by unmarried people, cohabitation and the promotion of contraception.

"We called on the deliberation to be immediately postponed until the situation has recovered,” they said in a written statement on Thursday.