Jakarta. Amid rising concern over the inclusion of articles on adultery in a revision of the criminal code, the national human rights body suggested that an older version of the draft be adopted to avoid potential abuse of authority and public persecution.
"As it is, the article shows potential for misuse and it's better to revert to the old version," Ahmad Taufan Damanik, chairman of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), said at a press conference in Jakarta on Friday (02/02).
The draft revision will extend the criminalization of adultery to all forms of extramarital sex.
The current criminal code already criminalizes adultery, but it is only applicable to sex between a married person and a person who is not their spouse. However, Article 484 of the draft states that a man and a woman not bound by a "legitimate marriage" could face up to five years in prison if they have sexual intercourse.
This also falls under a complaint offense, and can be reported by spouses or "any concerned third party." The article does not contain a clear definition of the third party.
"[In the current draft], the article has been expanded to include other parties, so it can be anyone reporting on what others are doing, which prompts concerns that these articles can be misused," Taufan said.
Concerned citizens started an online petition on Monday demanding that the House of Representatives reconsider problematic morality articles in the draft, also citing the extension of criminalizing to include extramarital sex.
It highlighted that such provisions would "increase persecution and vigilante culture" in society.
More than 40,000 people had already signed the petition by Saturday afternoon.
Komnas HAM shares the same opinion and said the article on adultery could potentially harm rape survivors, who are more likely to be reluctant and fearful to report rapists to the police, as they may be accused of having committed a crime.