UPDATE: Indonesia/Aceh: Institute to facilitate amendment of bylaws
The National Resilience Institute (Lemhanas) will facilitate a dialogue between President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the National Commission for Women's Protection to eliminate 154 bylaws considered to discriminate against women and minorities. Lemhanas governor Muladi told a discussion on the national perspectives of bylaws Thursday that many bylaws violated the Constitution and had created public controversy that could lead to the disintegration of the nation.
Muladi said the government had to control the enactment of bylaws through the Home Ministry, and had to ensure that the bylaws did not violate the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) that guaranteed gender equality, which Indonesia has ratified.
The dialogue is expected to focus on the results of studies conducted by the commission between 1999 and 2009 on bylaws that had discriminatory contents, with 154 bylaws found to discriminate against women and minorities. Of the 154 bylaws, 134 were issued at the regional level, 19 at the provincial level and one at the village level. Commission chairwoman Kamala Chandrakirana told the discussion that West Java, West Sumatra and Kalimantan were the regions that had issued most of the discriminative bylaws.
"We expect President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to revoke the bylaws within the first 100 days of his second term," Kemala said.
"I see the bylaws as warning signs that our country is losing its pluralism and nationalism," she added.
Sixty-three out of the 154 bylaws have a direct negative impact on women, as they limit freedom of expression, reduce legal protection and certainty, and violate women's right to employment.
One of the most controversial bylaws, on the stoning of adulterers, was issued by the Aceh Legislative Council.
Article 24 of the bylaw states that unmarried citizens who have sexual intercourse will be whipped 100 times, while married people caught committing adultery will be stoned to death.
Aceh Deputy Governor Muhammad Nazar informed the discussion that Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf had sent a letter to the Aceh Legislative Council containing a request to review the bylaw.
Kemala added that the bylaws had hindered women's efforts to uphold gender equality.
"The bylaws will lead to widespread violence against women. We therefore demand the government repeal them," she said.
Article 28D, Clause 1 of the Constitution guarantees equality before the law. Article 28I Clause 2 stipulates that every citizen has the right to not be discriminated against.
"We have to refer to our Constitution, which guarantees diversity and pluralism," Muladi said.
Muladi said that the review of the bylaws was part of a healthy democracy that required checks and balances from many government institutions.
"We have the Constitutional Court with a capacity to review laws, and the Supreme Court with the authority to review bylaws," he said.
He added that regional autonomy, which was part of decentralization, should involve the implementation of the promotion and protection of human rights. (nia)