Enforcement of new criminal code would negatively impact freedom of expression, punish extramarital relationships, criminalize access to reproductive health information and curtail free and open press

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington (February 1, 2023) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today led his colleagues Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in writing to Indonesian President Joko Widodo to raise concerns with several provisions of the nation’s new criminal code, passed by Indonesia’s parliament in December 2022, which, if enforced, would imperil the fundamental right to privacy, freedom of expression and access to healthcare in Indonesian civil society. In their letter, the senators stressed that enforcing these provisions – including unfairly penalizing extramarital relationships, prosecuting news media for their criticism of Indonesian authorities and state agencies, and criminalizing accessing information about abortion or contraception – would have a serious, negative impact on human rights and Indonesia’s participation in the global economy.

“As legislators, we were deeply concerned to see several provisions in the new code which, if implemented and enforced, could negatively impact civil society and the protection of human rights,” the senators wrote in their letter to Indonesian President Widodo. “We write to urge you to reconsider adopting those provisions and to ensure that any articles included in a revised criminal code are consistent with Indonesia’s international human rights obligations and its own principles.”

“In addition to human rights issues, we also want to note the potential impact of the law on Indonesia’s economy,” the senators continued. “We strongly urge you to consider the massive economic impacts to Indonesia that will occur if major financial institutions curtail their investments in Indonesia because of the new penal code.”