Human Rights Watch has slammed a new law in an Indonesian province as being a blatant violation of human rights.

The by-law, passed by the provincial parliament of Aceh, “imposes torture, violates basic rights to privacy, and fails to protect victims of sexual violence,” said the organisation.

The law calls for married adulterers to be stoned to death and punishes consensual sexual conduct with flogging – 100 lashes each for homosexual sex and for sex between unmarried partners.

It was passed on September 14 and, although Aceh’s governor Irwandi Yusuf has said he will not sign the law, it will take effect in mid-October unless national authorities intervene.

Human Rights Watch urged the Indonesian government to review and reject all provisions relating to the death penalty, stoning, and flogging, and called on the Ministry of Home Affairs to overturn the law immediately.

“Stoning and flogging constitute torture in any circumstances,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Imposing these draconian punishments on private, consensual conduct means the government can dictate people’s intimate lives.”

Aceh enjoys relative autonomy from the central government as a Special Administrative Region, including a semi-independent legal system. While the Acehnese have the power to enact their own laws, all laws governing citizens and residents of Indonesia must be consistent with the Indonesian constitution.

“The new Aceh law flies in the face of the Indonesian Constitution, which confers an irrevocable right to freedom from torture,” Pearson said. “Further, Indonesian national law does not criminalise consensual homosexual conduct or recognise stoning as punishment for any crime.”

In addition to criminalising all sex outside of marriage, the new law fails to criminalise marital rape and introduces discriminatory and unjust evidentiary requirements to prove rape.

“In doing so, the law places sexual assault victims at risk of being punished for engaging in illegal sexual conduct, instead of providing victims of violence or abuse with clear channels for redress,” said Human Rights Watch.

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