Amnesty urges caning repeal in Indonesia's Aceh
Jakarta: Rights group Amnesty International on Sunday hit out at the use of caning in Indonesia's Aceh province, two days after the country secured a seat on the United Nations' Human Rights Council.
Amnesty urged Jakarta to repeal a by-law used by the partially-autonomous province to openly cane at least 21 men for gambling this month.
"It seems that Aceh's authorities are increasingly resorting to public caning in violation of international law," Amnesty's Asia-Pacific director Sam Zarifi said in a statement.
"The Indonesian government must act to stop these punishments, which constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and often amount to torture."
Sixteen people were reportedly caned in Aceh last year, the statement said.
Amnesty said caning violates the UN Convention against Torture, which Indonesia ratified in 1998, and urged central government to review the by-law to conform with international and national human rights law and standards.
Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra island, adopted partial sharia law in 2001 as part of an autonomy package aimed at quelling separatist sentiment.
Caning carried out there is mainly aimed at causing shame rather than injury.
Nearly 90 percent of Indonesia's 234 million people are Muslims, but the vast majority practise a moderate form of Islam.
Indonesia was among 15 new nations to secure seats Friday on the Geneva-based Human Rights Council following a vote at the UN General Assembly.