The government can go to court if it wants to disband vigilante mass organizations such as the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) for its members’ violent actions, several experts have agreed.
Constitutional law expert Refly Harun said on Thursday, however, that the government could not of its own volition order questionable mass organizations to disband.
“But the government can go to the district court or the Constitutional Court to file a lawsuit against their violent acts, and once the verdict is in, it would have to be final and binding,” he said.
Ali Bachtiar, the director for mass organizations at the Home Ministry, said that based on the Mass Organizations Law, the government had no authority to disband FPI.
“However, the government could file suit against FPI members and officials. But no action could be taken against the organization because the Criminal Code cannot be applied to institutions or organizations,” he said.
Refly disagreed with Ali’s statement, saying that a district court could order the FPI disbanded if judges determined that the group ordered its members to use violence in its activities.
Refly said that the Constitutional Court also had the authority to disband vigilante groups that violated the Constitution, which guarantees citizens the freedom of expression and assembly.
The Central Jakarta District Court sentenced FPI chairman Rizieq Shihab to 18 months’ imprisonment in October 2008 for his involvement in the assault of activists at a rally at the National Monument (Monas).
Meanwhile, Malik Haramain, chairman of the House of Representatives’ special committee deliberating revisions to the Mass Organizations Law, said that the government would be able to move against radical groups more effectively once the revisions were endorsed.
Malik said that the final bill might propose giving the government explicit authority to disband mass organizations with violent members.
“The bill requires all mass organizations to be registered with the government and to adopt the national ideology of Pancasila as their basic principle,” he said.
According to the Home and Foreign ministries, more than 65,000 mass organizations have been registered with the government.
Didin Wahyudin, director for the sociocultural and NGO affairs division at the Foreign Ministry said that there were currently 109 foreign NGOs authorized to operate in Indonesia because they fulfilled all administrative, legal and security requirements.