August 28, 2005


Rights group protests caning of unmarried couples

A story published today in the Jakarta Post reports that a leading human rights group on Sunday condemned as "insane" an Islamic court's caning of two unmarried couples in Aceh province for drinking alcohol and being alone together after dark.

They were the latest Aceh residents to fall foul of new regulations that give the staunchly Muslim province the right to impose a version of Islamic Shariah law.

The women fainted after being beaten 40 times on Friday outside a mosque in central Aceh, witnesses said. They were taken to a hospital, but had no serious injuries.

"We protest this insane sentence, and it should be reviewed by the Supreme Court," said Ifdhal Kasim of the rights organization ELSHAM. "It violates Indonesia's constitution that outlaws corporal punishment, torture and humiliation (of prisoners)."

The four were arrested late at night last month and found guilty by an Islamic court of violating laws prohibiting the consumption of alcohol and unmarried couples being together in private places. It was not clear where they were detained.

The latter law is aimed at preventing premarital sex, seen as sin in Islam.

Aceh is the only province Indonesia that has implemented Shariah. The first caning in Aceh occurred in June, with the flogging of 15 men convicted of gambling.