Aceh Shari'a Court Decision No. 1 of 2016: Appeal of Lower Court Sentence for Khalwat

The two co-accused sought to appeal the decision of the Banda Aceh Shari'a Court, which had found them guilty of being together in close proximity out of wedlock (khalwat). In their submissions they stated that they had already informed the village head (kepala dusun) that they would be living together as husband and wife, and that they would be joined by the three-year old son of the second co-accused. When both co-accused told the village head that they were unable to provide photocopies of their family card, both their identity cards, their wedding certificate (buku nikah), and relocation notice, because they were still being processed, however, the village head requested that the village official attend the home of the co-accused. It then came to light that the second co-accused was actually in the process of divorcing her ex-husband, which made the fact that the two co-accused were in close proximity with one another illegal, as contained in art 23(1) of Aceh Qanun No. 6 of 2014 on Criminal Law.

The court overturned the decision of the lower court on several grounds:

  1. The lower court had not granted what was sought by the prosecution;
  2. According to art 23(1) of Aceh Qanun No. 6 of 2014 on Criminal Law, the appropriate punishment for repudiation of the prohibition contained therein is either ten strokes of the cane, a fine of 100 grams of pure gold, or a maximum ten month prison sentence;
  3. The punishment contained in art 23(1) provides alternative punishments, one of which may be requested by the prosecution, to be determined by the court;
  4. The lower court was not authorised to sentence the co-accused to be caned when the prosecution had requested that they be imprisoned; and
  5. The lower court was only authorised to either accede to, or deny, the prosecution's demands.

Accordingly, the court sentenced both co-accused to five months and 20 days in prison, taking into account time already served on remand.

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