A new law in Indonesia means poachers who threaten endangered animals could be subject to 100 lashes of a cane.
Despite the policy being internationally condemned, the rules have been put in place in Indonesia’s Aceh province, the only region in the country that imposes religious law.
The punishment, known as ‘flogging’, is already common in the conservative region for several offences, including gambling, drinking alcohol and having gay or premarital sex, though the cane is usually reserved for morality crimes under Islamic law.
The new rules were adopted last week, marking the first time crimes against wildlife fall under Aceh’s strict Sharia code, Straits Times report.
When it comes into effect, people convicted of endangering or exploiting orangutans, tigers and other wildlife could be subject to up to 100 strokes from a rattan cane, in addition to any prison time under national laws.
Civil servants charged with protecting animals could also be whipped as many as 60 times if they are found to be negligent in their duties.
The WWF have identified parts of Indonesia as ‘wildlife trade hotspots’, where ‘wildlife trade is particularly threatening’, though they have not specified whether Aceh is one of these regions.
According to AFP, as per Straits Times, Aceh lawmaker Nurzahri said the harsh new ruling underscores efforts to clamp down on poaching and other threats to local wildlife, including birds endemic to jungle-clad Sumatra.
The politician explained:
Maintaining nature and its balance is part of Islamic law.
Aceh is the centre of biodiversity in Sumatra and it’s the habitat of some animals like Sumatran orangutans, rhinos, elephants and tigers.
The controversial punishment has been met with backlash from rights groups, who have slammed public caning as cruel. Although Indonesian President Joko Widodo has called for an end to caning, the practice has wide support among Aceh’s population, where about 98 per cent of the region’s five million residents are Muslim.
According to the Kuwait Times, Marwan, the head of the local public order agency, commented on public flogging after the punishment was carried out on three couples found having premarital sex earlier this year.
Hidden: The hooded guard brandishes their weapon as they carry out the public flogging. The most severe punishments in Indonesia's Aceh province can see offenders caned up to 100 times pic.twitter.com/tcGd36scbO
— Lola Netty (@TXTrumpette89) August 1, 2019
This law is designed to have a deterrent effect, not only for the offenders but for the spectators who watch the caning. The pain of being flogged is not that bad, the embarrassment is worse.
The new rules are expected to start being rolled out early next year.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to [email protected]
Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.