The conservative Indonesian province of Aceh will no longer conduct the Shariah punishment of caning in public, its governor said Thursday. The displays had become public spectacles, attended by hundreds of onlookers cheering and filming the proceedings.
The decision is reportedly in response to criticism of the caning of two gay men that drew international condemnation and damaged Indonesia’s reputation as a moderate Muslim country.
A memorandum of understanding signed by Aceh Gov. Irwandi Yusuf and Yuspahruddin, head of the provincial Law and Human Rights office, stipulates that caning can only take place inside prisons or other places of detention.
Under the new rules, adults will still be able to attend the sessions, but attendance will be limited to small number and recording will be prohibited.
“The aim of holding the caning inside prison is to prevent it from being watched by children, without cameras and hand phones. The prisoner is punished once, but if it’s recorded on video and that’s uploaded to YouTube, he is punished for life with those images,” said Yusuf.
Human rights groups are not impressed, saying the amendment is not enough.
“Torture is torture whether you do it in public, outside a mosque after Friday prayers, or inside a room, banning anyone from taking a picture,” said Human Rights Watch researcher, Andreas Harsono. “It’s still torture, it’s still traumatising.”
Source: Asian Correspondent
Photo courtesy of Voice of America