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Indonesia: Ban on Alcoholic Beverage Sales Considered

(May 19, 2015) A proposed law to control alcoholic beverages has been considered in Indonesia since 2013. (RUU Larangan Minuman Beralkohol Tahun 2013 [Draft Law Banning Alcoholic Drinks of 2013], HUKUMONLINE [click on link for text].) The proposal was originally made by two Islamic political parties, the United Development Party and the Prosperous Justice Party. (Dylan Amirio, House to Prioritize Alcohol Prohibition Bill in Current Sitting Period, JAKARTA POST (May 18, 2015).)

The House of Representatives Speaker, Setya Novanto, announced on May 18, 2015, that the House will consider the legislation as a priority. (Id.) The House website now lists the draft law among the priority items in the national legislative program. (Prolegnas Prioritas [Priority National Legislative Program], No. 21 (2015), House of Representatives website.)

Novanto said that the House β€œis calling on all commissions to complete deliberations of all bills that are currently in the preparation or harmonization states. These include the alcoholic bill and the public housing bill. It is expected that the bills will be passed soon.” (Amirio, supra.)

As currently proposed, articles 5 to 7 of the draft law would make it illegal for any individual or group to produce, store, distribute, sell, or consume alcoholic beverages with alcoholic content of 1% or more, except for some limited cases, including for indigenous peoples, religious rituals, tourists, pharmaceutical purposes, and places where such consumption is permitted by legislation. (Mari Bicara Tentang RUU Larangan Minuman Beralkohol [Lets Discuss the Draft Law Banning Alcoholic Drinks], RAPPLER.COM (Apr. 14, 2015).) If adopted, the law would authorize a sentence of three to six months of imprisonment for violations of its provisions. (Amirio, supra.)

Concern about the Proposed Law

Legislator Firman Subagyo has indicated that discussions about the draft legislation have included concern that cultures within Indonesia, such as those that exist on Bali and in Papua that include the drinking of alcohol, not face discrimination. He argues that some exceptions should be part of the law. (Christina Desy & Rofiq Hidayat, Alcoholic Beverage Prohibition Must Accommodate All Interests, ENGLISH HUKUMONLINE (May 11, 2015).)

According to Asrul Sani, who is also a legislator, the legislation will have exemptions for customary and ritual purposes, for medications, and for the tourism business. (Id.) There is precedent for making exceptions for some industries; in January 2015 the Ministry of Trade adopted some restrictions on beer sales, but exempted large supermarkets and restaurants and bars. (Constance Johnson, Indonesia: Beer Sales Ban for Small Vendors, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Apr. 23, 2015).)

A third legislator, Khatibul Umam Wiranu, supports the draft because he believes the country needs better control over the distribution and consumption of alcohol. In his view, β€œ[t]his is not to fully ban alcoholic beverages, but more to limit their sales to authorized places only.” (Desy & Hidayat, supra.)