The Jakarta Post
In a pre-deliberation talk on the revision of the Terrorism Law, the House of Representatives highlighted on Wednesday the importance of balancing the authority of law enforcers to prevent human rights abuses.
United Development Party ( PPP ) lawmaker Arsul Sani said his party demanded that an extension of power for relevant authorities go hand-in-hand with a guarantee that basic human rights would be upheld.
'This could take the form of a specific article in the law on the compensation and rehabilitation of third parties. If there are ever any [unlawful arrests], the state's responsibility in the matter should be clear,' Arsul told The Jakarta Post.
Arsul also said the PPP refused to extend the power of the National Intelligence Agency ( BIN ), which has requested the authority to capture and detain suspected terrorists.
Democratic Party lawmaker Erma Suryani Ranik said that the extension of authority sought in the revision of the 2003 Terrorism Law should not impinge on the basic freedom and democracy of citizens.
In anticipation of the deliberation of the bill, the House has invited experts from the Netherlands-based International Center for Counter-Terrorism ( ICCT ) to weigh in on the contentious issue of extending the authority of relevant institutions.
'Giving law enforcement more power is not an issue as long as you ensure that human rights are met,' said ICCT research fellow Tanya Mehra.
Mehra's colleague, Christophe Paulussen, said there was a fine balance between extending the power of certain authorities while respecting other aspects.
Paulussen listed a number of possible solutions used in other countries like the Netherlands, such as employing prosecutors who are well-versed in the field of intelligence to determine whether intelligence reports could be used as evidence in a court of law, while also allowing the defense to challenge the use of such information.
He also brought up the idea of pretrial motions as a mechanism to ensure that people's rights as defendants in terrorism cases would remain protected in the event of unlawful arrest.
'You can [have judges] mention that [the arrest] was illegal, you can [have the court] give a reduction of a sentence, or when it's really serious, stop the entire case and have the prosecutor forfeit his or her right to proceed with the case,' the researcher added.
Human rights watchdog Imparsial's director al-Araf has called on the government to give a guarantee on human rights protection in the terrorism bill.
Earlier, House speaker Ade Komaruddin said that legislators would start discussing the revision of the law next week after the House's Steering Committee ( Bamus ) set the schedule.
'[The deliberation of the draft] will be decided at the Bamus forum next week. Bamus will determine which internal House institution will discuss the antiterrorism bill,' Ade said at the House complex.
The Golkar Party lawmaker said Bamus would also discuss plans to complete the draft bill, which was proposed and initiated by the government.
Gerindra Party lawmaker Supratman Andi Agtas, who also chairs the House Legislation Body ( Baleg ), said that House leaders had already received a presidential mandate ( Ampres ), which would allow lawmakers to start deliberations on the Terrorism Law.
To receive comprehensive and earlier access to The Jakarta Post print edition, please subscribe to our epaper through iOS' iTunes, Android's Google Play, Blackberry World or Microsoft's Windows Store. Subscription includes free daily editions of The Nation, The Star Malaysia, the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Asia News.