Responding to the caning of several people – including unmarried couples, punished for showing affection in public, and two women sex workers – in Aceh on Friday, Amnesty International Indonesia Executive Director Usman Hamid said:
“Caning is an inhuman and degrading form of punishment that may amount to torture which should never be used in any circumstances. The Aceh authorities’ decision to cane unmarriedcouples, whose only ‘crime’ was showing affection in public, in front of hundreds of spectators, is an act of utmost cruelty.
“Since January of this year, a total of 47 people have now been caned in public in Aceh, and the list is only getting longer. The provincial administration of Aceh must immediately remove this abhorrent form of punishment from its law books.
“It is also high time for the international community to press Indonesia to provide a safer environment for everyone in Aceh. The situation risks deteriorating rapidly unless the local administration is pushed to take its obligations to respect human rights seriously.”
Eight people, including five women and three men, were caned between 11 and 22 times on Friday in Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province, for “showing affection in public” and for “prostitution”.
Amnesty International Indonesia has documented how a total of 47 people have been caned for various “crimes” in the province of Aceh, where Shari’a law is implemented, in 2018.
The Banda Aceh city administration decided to carry out the caning in pubic despite a recent decision taken by the Aceh Governor to move the caning punishments indoors, away from the public eye. The Governor told media that the decision to move the punishment indoors was to prevent investors being dissuaded from bringing their business to Aceh.
Canings are regularly carried out in public spaces, drawing large crowds where people take photographs and videos of the event. This can add to the humiliation and long-term suffering of those who are subjected to this punishment.