Women's rights activists participate in a demonstration at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta on Sunday to demand that the House of Representatives ratify the elimination of sexual violence bill. (Antara Photo/Hafidz Mubarak A)

Here Are the Most Contentious Articles in Indonesia's New Criminal Code


SEPTEMBER 02, 2019

Jakarta. In less than a month, the House of Representatives will vote on Indonesia's new criminal code, which has been in the works for more than three decades, to replace the existing code the country inherited from its Dutch colonial rulers. 

The 2019 criminal code draft bill, published on Aug. 28, will be put to a vote in the House on Sept. 24. Should lawmakers approve it, the law will become effective in three years, after a transition period to allow time for various aspects to be challenged in the Constitutional Court. 

It includes several new regulations, some of which have caused controversy. Here are the 12 articles that have received most public attention:

Criminalization of Consensual Sex

Unmarried couples engaging in sexual intercourse may face a one-year prison sentence or a fine of Rp 10 million ($703), if their parents, children or spouses decide to turn them in. In the existing criminal code, these penalties only apply to married persons engaging in extramarital sex. 

Cohabitation may be punishable by up to six months' imprisonment or a Rp 10 million fine. Under the current dispensation, it is not illegal for unmarried couples to live together. 

Expanded Definition of Rape

The new criminal code expands the definition of rape to include forced oral and anal sexual acts. The existing code currently only recognizes forced vaginal penetration as rape.

Men engaging in nonconsensual sex with their spouses may also face rape charges, punishable by up to 12 years in prison. 

Bestiality and Animal Cruelty

Anyone injuring or harming animals beyond the limits, or without appropriate purpose, or engages in sexual intercourse with animals, will be charged with animal abuse, subject to maximum imprisonment of one year, or a Rp 10 million fine.

Customary Law

The new criminal code acknowledges customary laws that exist in traditional communities across the archipelago. Any person violating customary laws can be taken to court and punished in accordance with the penalties demanded by such laws. The new criminal code does not list the violations considered crimes under customary laws, which has prompted observers to raise concern over the likelihood of abuse. 

Propagating Agnosticism Will Be Illegal

Anyone trying to persuade others to abandon their beliefs in one of Indonesia's officially recognized religions may face up to four years' imprisonment, or a maximum fine of Rp 2 billion.

Punishment for Witchcraft

Anyone claiming to possess magic powers, or announces, creates an expectation, offers, or provides a service to another person that could harm, kill, or cause mental or physical suffering, may face up to three years in prison, or a Rp 2 billion fine. 

Smaller Fines for Corruptors

Anyone enriching themselves, another person or corporation, which results in state losses, may face a maximum of life and minimum of two years' imprisonment and fines of between Rp 10 million and Rp 2 billion. The minimum fine is currently Rp 200 million.

Too Old for Jail

Convicts aged 75 years and above will no longer be required to serve any time in prison.

Criminalizing Homelessness 

Anyone living on the street or in a public space, disrupting the public order, may be liable to a fine of up to Rp 1 million. Human rights activists have pointed out that this article may contradict the 1945 Constitution, which requires the state to take care of the poor and abandoned children.

Truth to Power

The new criminal code retains a colonial-era stipulation making it illegal to diminish the stature of the head of state. Anyone broadcasting, displaying or distributing texts or pictures for public consumption, or playing a recording the public can hear, which attacks the dignity of the president or vice president, may face a maximum of four years and six months imprisonment, or a Rp 2 billion fine. The president or vice president will still need to file a lawsuit to activate this clause. 

Don't Judge the Judges

Anyone disrespecting a judge or a court, or attacks the integrity or opposes a judge during a trial, may face up to five years' imprisonment. Anyone who publicizes or allows the publication of something that may affect the neutrality of judges in court may face a similar penalty.

High Stakes

Anyone who offers or provides the opportunity for gambling, or makes it an occupation or contributes to the gambling industry, may face up to nine years' imprisonment, or a maximum fine of Rp 2 billion.