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New body to have TNI, police
as partners

The new National Antiterror Agency (BNPT) has united Indonesia’s antiterror agencies under one authority, shifting the weight to include other institutions besides the National Police’s  Detachment 88.

A spokesman from the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister’s Office, Sagom Tamboen, said besides the Detachment 88 antiterror squad, the BNPT comprised the National Intelligence Agency (BIN), and antiterror units from the Indonesian Military (TNI) including army, navy and air force as well as the Coordinating Political Legal and Security Affairs Minister’s Office.

“Placing all these units under one command will increase the effectiveness and efficiency of human resources,” he said, adding that the move “would hopefully mean budgetary efficiency as well”.

The agency, he continued, would create various units to undertake all antiterror efforts; from intelligence, arresting suspected terrorists and deradicalization programs.

“We will equip all units with personnel from various fields who possess the specific skills to perform the tasks required,” Sagom told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

The agency has officially been in operation since President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono issued a decree for its formation early this month. Insp. Gen. (ret.) Ansyaad Mbai from the minister’s office will act as the interim head until the President appointed the official head.

Sagom said the position would be open to those coming from existing antiterror agencies as well as civilian ranks.

He added the structure of the agency was being settled as well as the staffing of core personnel, although units from antiterror agencies would operate as normal.

“We will settle everything as soon as possible, as mandated by the President,” he said, adding that everything would hopefully be completed by the end of the year.

Al-Araf, an activist at Imparsial, said the government must ensure no antiterror agency held too much authority to avoid abuses of power and must have clear-cut roles to avoid human rights abuses including wrongful arrests and illegal wire taps.

“The agency should not create a fresh set of problems,” he told the Post.

Araf said one of the greatest flaws in the 2003 Antiterrorism Law is the wide definition of who is considered a terrorist.

“This causes the government to use its authority to brand anyone who voices their opinion against the state as terrorists,” he said, adding that certain farmer and labor activist have been labeled as terrorists.

Furthermore, there was still a lack of clarity among the public regarding the role and responsibility of the new agency, he said.

“We urge the President and the coordinating political, legal and security affairs minister to explain the rationale behind establishing the agency so that the public can determine whether such agency is directly related to antiterrorism,” he said.

He added that if the agency brought more benefit than harm, there would be no reason to halt its inception.

Indonesia has been the target of numerous terrorist attacks in the past decade, which have killed at least 320 Indonesians and foreigners in blasts in Jakarta, Bali and Makassar.

As many as 58 suspects were arrested and 13 killed by the police’s counterterrorism squad between January and May this year. (gzl)

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