President Jokowi orders delay of criminal code overhaul amid widespread criticism

President Joko Widodo. AFP file photo / ROMEO GACAD
President Joko Widodo. AFP file photo / ROMEO GACAD

Indonesia’s much criticized draft revisions to the Criminal Code (RKUHP) will not be passed by the House of Parliament (DPR) next week, as it was widely reported, after President Joko Widodo ordered its delay today.

In a national address from the Bogor Palace, President Jokowi said that there needs to be further deliberations on RKUHP amid widespread criticism that the criminal code overhaul would threaten democracy, set back civil liberties and open up new ways to discriminate against the country’s religious and sexual minorities.

“With that I have ordered the Justice and Human Rights Minister (Yasonna Laoly) to represent the government in conveying this to the DPR, so that the passing of RKUHP is delayed. And the passing of the RKUHP will not be carried out by the DPR of this period,” Jokowi said.

Legislators in the DPR are coming to the end of their terms at the end of this month, with the next batch of legislators set to be sworn in on October 1 for the term lasting from 2019-2024.

Jokowi added that the incoming legislators — who were voted in during April’s election — should carry out further deliberations on RKUHP once they take their seats.

“There are, more or less, 14 [problematic] articles that we will convey to the DPR,” Jokowi said, without specifying what those articles were.

Unless the government, through Yasonna, somehow pulls a 180 and comes to an agreement with the DPR regarding RKUHP before the end of the month, despite Jokowi’s explicit order, the bill will not be passed by sitting legislators as any new law must be approved by both the DPR and the government before it can be put forward to a vote during a plenary session.

RKUHP, which would be the first ever overhaul of the country’s criminal code (which is, currently, largely still based on law originating in the Dutch colonial era) has been criticized over numerous problematic articles criminalizing everything from moral “crimes” such as adultery and cohabitation to “insults” against the president and other state institutions (you can read our full rundown of all the controversial articles here).

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