Aceh cannot introduce beheading as punishment under bylaw, official says

PHOTO: The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

The central government has warned the Aceh provincial administration against its plan to introduce beheading as a punishment for murder, saying that such a form of capital punishment could not be introduced under bylaws.

The introduction of beheading, a punishment known as Qisas, or "retributive justice", under Islamic law, is said to be under consideration by the Aceh administration, which believes it could create a deterrent effect to murder.

Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly said the only form of capital punishment stipulated in the country's Criminal Code was execution by firing squad, carried out under the order of the Attorney General's Office (AGO).

"The Criminal Code is higher because it is a national law and a bylaw cannot regulate [capital punishment]. There is a limitation on the drafting of punishments in bylaws," Yasonna told reporters on Thursday.

Aceh, the only province in the Muslim-majority country governed by Islamic law or sharia, has frequently made international headlines for carrying out public canings of alleged adulterers, homosexual people and gamblers.

Local authorities said the plan was still being considered and was yet to be drafted into law.

Human rights NGO Amnesty International has lambasted the plan.

Amnesty International Indonesia director Usman Hamid requested the central government to intervene or order the Aceh administration to drop the plan, arguing that the latter's argument that beheading could create deterrent effect was baseless.

"The Aceh administration cannot use its special autonomous status to introduce laws and policies that flagrantly violate human rights," Usman said in a statement.