Aceh to allow stoning to death

Stephen Fitzpatrick; 15/9/09

Parliamentarians in the Indonesian province of Aceh yesterday passed a law that would allow stoning to death for adultery and whipping for premarital sex. Critics plan to mount a legal challenge to the sharia law provisions, passed at the last possible moment before the current parliament in Banda Aceh is dissolved. The draft law came from the office of Governor Irwandi Yusuf, a US-educated veterinarian with secular views who spent his early adult years fighting in the Acehnese armed resistance. It was drafted in response to popular pressure to fully implement sharia law in the province, under the terms of an autonomy deal struck in 2000. Mr Yusuf is not thought to support the law’s more extreme elements, cobbled together by a parliamentary committee.


Trousers case shows Arab violations
Nadia Hijab; 15/9/09
Sudanese journalist Lubna Hussein’s courage in challenging the absurdity of her trial, sentencing and imprisonment for wearing trousers has spotlighted the penal codes still in force in many Arab and Muslim states. These not only violate the internationally recognised rights of women in several respects but also international laws against torture. I still shudder when I remember the provisions of one Arab code that described the appropriate techniques to use with someone sentenced to crucifixion and how to position a person for flogging, using a chair. That made it worse was that this was a revised code passed in 1994 and not some holdover from medieval times. The Sudanese criminal code under which Hussein was charged was passed in 1991. Hard to believe though it is, most Arab states have signed the international Convention Against Torture. Then again, the US has too, and that did not stop its top officials from sanctioning torture.