Indonesia’s Criminal Code, the KUHP, was enacted by the Dutch in 1918, and has been amended only a handful of times since the colonial era. Efforts to complete and enact a new draft of the code over the past few decades have consistently foundered. Under the administration of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, the drafting process has gained new impetus, however, and there is a growing sense that a new criminal code will be enacted this year. At the same time, civil society activists and legal experts have lined up to criticise regressive aspects of the present draft, including a proposed criminalisation of all extramarital sex and new restrictions on freedom of expression.


Why have revisions to the Criminal Code stalled for so long, and what are the deficits in Indonesia’s criminal law that the new draft seeks to address? Who are the main actors in the revision process, and how have controversial regressive articles emerged? Will a new criminal code finally be enacted, and what will the implications be for Indonesian democracy if the current draft passes into law?


Dr Dave McRae explores these issues with Anugerah Rizki Akbari, a criminal law expert and lecturer at the Indonesia Jentera School of Law in Jakarta. Akbari wrote his masters thesis at Leiden University on the control of Indonesian society through criminalisation, and has extensively researched the promulgation of new criminal offences in Indonesia in the democratic era.


In 2018, the Talking Indonesia podcast is co-hosted by Dr Dave McRae from the University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute, Dr Jemma Purdey from Monash University, Dr Charlotte Setijadi from the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore and Dr Dirk Tomsa from La Trobe University.


Look out for a new Talking Indonesia podcast every fortnight.  Catch up on previous episodes here, subscribe via iTunes or listen via your favourite podcasting app.


Photo by Moch Asim for Antara.


Correction: Anugerah Rizki Akbari has confirmed that the proposed new maximum penalty for defamation will be one year, not five years, as stated during minute 22:00 of the conversation.



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