Indonesia’s Aceh has now caned more than 500 people
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Indonesia’s Aceh has now caned more than 500 people

PUBLIC floggings under the shariah-inspired criminal code in the Indonesian province of Aceh have reached more than 500 since October 2015, reported a human rights monitor last week.

Human Rights Watch said that at least 530 people have been caned since the introduction of Aceh’s new, Islamic penal code two years ago. The organisation said punishments were mainly for what it called “victimless crimes” such as non-marital kissing and sexual relations, as well as gambling.

There have also been people whipped for selling alcohol, which is outlawed in the strictly Muslim-majority province. Under Indonesian law, Aceh is the only of the country’s 34 provinces to legally implement bylaws directly from Quranic teachings.

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Acehnese law now criminalises extramarital relations known as zina, as well as consensual same-sex acts. Those charged under the legislation can be given 100 lashes and up to 100 months in prison for homosexuality.

Back in May, two men caught engaging in gay sex were each caned before a crowd of jeering spectators in Aceh, becoming the first to be given corporal punishment for homosexuality. This was despite calls for clemency from rights groups and international governments.

The government there subsequently made floggings hidden from public view.

Human Rights Watch said that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo “should uphold Indonesia’s international legal obligations and abolish discriminatory Sharia regulations” in order to end what it called “barbaric punishments”.