April 12, 2018 / 9:22 AM / 7 months ago

Conservative Indonesian province to restrict access to public floggings

FILE PHOTO: An Indonesian man is publicly caned for having gay sex in Banda Aceh, Aceh province, Indonesia May 23, 2017. Picture taken May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Beawiharta/File Photo

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (Reuters) - Indonesia’s ultra-conservative Aceh province will only no longer hold canings in public places, but rather only inside prisons, nor allow images of the punishment to be recorded, the provincial government chief said on Thursday.

Aceh is the only province in majority-Muslim Indonesia that follows Islamic law and imposes public caning for crimes like theft, gambling and adultery. In 2014, the province outlawed homosexuality.

The move to restrict access comes nearly a year after two men convicted of having gay sex were publicly flogged and images of their punishment were livestreamed and uploaded on the Internet, drawing international criticism.

“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,” Aceh governor Irwandi Yusuf, who will issue a decree to change the rules, told reporters.

He added the canings will be carried out inside prisons and members of the public and media will be allowed to witness but not record images or videos of the punishment. Children will no longer be allowed to witness corporal punishment.

“Imagine if children witness a punishment and there is applause... Is that what Islamic law means?” he added.

Public canings were introduced in Aceh in 2005 and are supported by many Acehnese. Some members of the provincial legislative council disagreed with the governor’s decree, which does not require council approval.

“Something like this should be done in consultation with the council, otherwise it is unconstitutional,” said council speaker Muharuddin.

Reporting by Reuters stringer in Banda Aceh; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Nick Macfie

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