JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Amnesty International is urging Indonesia to stop the growing use of caning as a punishment in conservative Aceh province.

The London-based rights group says at least 21 people have been publicly caned in Aceh this month for gambling. Sixteen people were caned last year.

The group’s director for Asia and the Pacific, Sam Zarifi, said Sunday that caning is a cruel and inhumane punishment that can cause permanent injury.

Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim nation with a policy of secularism. However, Aceh has been granted partial autonomy and the right to implement a version of Islamic law. It is the only province in Indonesia that permits caning.

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