Indonesia Court Pressured To Repeal Blasphemy Laws

Monday, April 19, 2010

By Worthy News Asia Service

JAKARTA, INDONESIA (Worthy News)-- A major Christian rights group has urged Indonesia’s Constitutional Court to repeal blasphemy laws that it claims have been "widely misused to persecute religious minorities" in the Islamic country.

Indonesia’s Constitutional Court is reviewing the blasphemy laws, introduced in 1965 and enshrined in Article 156A of the country’s Criminal Code, and a ruling is expected later this month, said Britain-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

The controversial legislation imposes a jail sentence of up to five years for those convicted of defamation against any of Indonesia’s six officially recognized religions of Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism, Protestantism and Confucianism.

"Many religious figures, particularly those from religions outside the six officially recognized faiths, have been jailed and denied access to basic civil rights." CSW added.

CSW’s National Director, Stuart Windsor, said: “Religious freedom is a universal right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Indonesia’s own constitution."

Windsor said that ending the blasphemy laws in their current form would mean upholding the country’s "long tradition of religious freedom and pluralism."