Indonesia’s New Criminal Code Leads to Conflict with U.S.

December 22, 2022

Paul Marshall, Director of RFI’s South and Southeast Asia Action Team, wrote an article published in Providence this week on criticisms of Indonesia’s newly revised Criminal Code, including those provisions that have harmful religious freedom and other implications. He writes:

Although it is the world’s fourth largest country by population, and the third largest democracy, Indonesia usually attracts comparatively little attention overseas. But it has had a good year on the international stage with its successful Presidency of the G20 and its coming chairmanship of ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The Economist was moved to write: “Why Indonesia matters: Indonesia is back on the map. In the next decade it will only become more important.”

However, in recent weeks, most news coverage has focused on the December 6 passage of its new draft Criminal Code, and this has led to clashes with the U.S. The Code, which would take effect three years hence, was approved by all nine parties during a plenary session in the 575-member lower chamber of the legislature. The current code is over a hundred years old, dating from the height of the Dutch occupation in 1918, and contains many anachronisms. Almost everyone agrees it needed radical revision. 

But the content of such revision has been highly contentious and efforts in 2019 to pass an earlier version failed after riots in the street. Dozens of civil society groups have protested many provisions in the new draft. 

On December 5, the Alliance of Independent Journalists protested against the Code and asserted that it contained at least 17 problematic articles, many of which could threaten press freedom.

Read the full article: “Indonesia’s New Criminal Code Leads to Conflict with U.S.