Witchcraft Law Intended to Protect People From Fraud, Drafter Claims
The head drafter of the Criminal Code Law (KUHP) revision on Saturday claimed that a controversial article which would punish witchcraft is intended to protect people from fraud and deception, but a politician argued that it violates the rights of witches and psychics.
“It’s not about the witchcraft, but the deception that is being stipulated by the criminal code,” Andi Hamzah, who originally drafted the proposed law in 1992, said during a discussion in Jakarta on Saturday. “The article [about witchcraft] is to protect people [from being deceived] because there are people claiming they could cast a spell on someone else, but asking for 50 cows or pigs in return.”
The government has seen widespread criticism after the KUHP revision on black magic hit the media. The Justice and Human Rights Ministry sent the draft to the House of Representatives for deliberation earlier this month.
Under Article 293 of the revised KUHP, “everyone who believes that they have magic power, informing hope, offering services that they can cause illness, death, mental or physical suffering to someone, can be sanctioned to spend at the longest five years in jail or be fined at the largest Category IV [Rp 300 million, or $30,794].”
Indra, a member of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), said on Thursday that the real target of the proposed article was the practice of fraud by self-proclaimed shamans and spiritual healers, and not the actual notion of witchcraft itself.
“What needs to be emphasized here is that the substance of the article is the fraud, not the witchcraft,” he said. “Anyone claiming to be, or advertising themselves as capable of using witchcraft to hurt or kill others is committing fraud.”
Andi said that people should not consider the proposed law a problem because it only stipulates deception, and not black magic itself.
Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party politician Permadi, who claims to have psychic powers, disagreed with Andi’s argument, saying the article fails to protect the rights of psychics and witches. He said that not all people who could perform magic and cast a spell on someone else use their power wrongly, as some witches use their power in a positive way.
Permadi said that if the government charges witches, the users of the service should also be punished as they’re also involved in the spell that is intended to hurt others.
“The article is probably meant to protect the people, but what about extending protection to someone who was accused as a witch in Banyuwangi and was killed,” Permadi said. “He was only asked [to cast a spell], but why don’t you charge those who request the witch to do it?”
Permadi was referring to a case where more than 100 people accused of witchcraft were killed in East Java between 1997 and 2000, according to Inilah.com.
Retired police officer Sr. Comr. Alfons Lemau said that the police would face difficulties in trying to find evidence to prove someone is a witch.
“During my service as a police officer, never was a suspect taken to a court for casting a spell on someone,” Alfons said, adding that the article also risks multiple interpretations, which further complicates the issue.
Permadi echoed the concerns, highlighting the need for more description and definition in the law.
“Law experts should be in one voice declaring whether witchcraft exists or not,” Permadi said. “If they’re sure that witchcraft indeed exists, the [draft] team should involve witches [specifically in the article]. Without it, the definition could be misleading.”
Permadi demanded the government gather all witches and psychics to listen to their opinions.
“If you want to make this law perfect, you should involve people who understand witchcraft,” Permadi said.