Much-awaited antiterrorism bill on track for deliberation
Tama Salim and Ina Parlina
The Jakarta Post
The House of Representatives has officially opened the legislation process for revising the 2003 Terrorism Law to strengthen measures to thwart growing radical propaganda.
The government initiative, which the House only formally received on Tuesday, will be discussed by lawmakers through a joint special committee composed of members of House Commission I overseeing defense and intelligence and Commission III overseeing legal affairs and security, according to House Deputy Speaker Agus Hermanto.
'The special committee will be formed very soon, but it is clear that the legal affairs and the security commissions will be on it,' Agus told reporters after the meeting.
In response to a fatal attack near the Sarinah department store in Jakarta on Jan. 14, the government has intended to strengthen measures to prevent terrorist activities in the country.
The Jakarta attack, which claimed eight lives including the four assailants, had been linked to Syria's Islamic State (IS) militant group.
The country has seen hundreds of Indonesians fleeing abroad to join the group in the war-torn country.
During a previous joint meeting by House Commissions I and III, the government outlined a new category of terrorism offenses as part of its planned revision of the counterterrorism law.
This new category would fill the gaps in current legislation, Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo said last Monday, covering the sales of chemical, biological, radiological, micro-organism, nuclear and radioactive weapons as acts of terrorism.
The government also proposed prohibiting relations with terrorist groups abroad, as there is currently no law that can be used to incriminate Indonesians who go overseas to join such groups. The new provisions will also prohibit Indonesians from undergoing military training in other countries.
Additionally, the proposed revision also includes a ban on adopting radical Islamic values, recruiting people for terrorism purposes, sending proxies for terrorist attacks, funding terrorist movements, giving assistance to terrorist groups and committing violence in the name of terrorism, Prasetyo said.
'If we continue to use the old means, it will be hard for us to address terrorism in the future,' he said during the meeting with legislators.
Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan, who was also present at last week's meeting, said the revisions would also focus on enabling law enforcers to arrest alleged terrorists planning to carry out attacks by making use of intelligence reports.
Separately, Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung said the amendments were essential to bring even more comprehensive preventive guidelines to the table as the threat of terrorism continues to lurk across the country.
'This can be a tool for the government to take preventive action,' he said at the State Palace on Thursday.
A recent report on IS in Indonesia, published by the Institute for Policy Analysis and Conflict (IPAC) earlier this month, revealed some gaping holes in Indonesia's current counterterrorism law, as many of citizens 'remain wary of draconian security legislation reminiscent of the authoritarian past'.
The report suggests that the government increase its focus on prevention programs, taking care to strengthen the woefully lax Indonesian prison system.
'The problem is that while attacks like those on Jan. 14 help rivet the attention of senior officials for a few weeks, other priorities inevitably take over and Indonesia slips back into taking for granted that the problem has been solved,' IPAC reports.
The draft bill would order tighter cooperation among relevant authorities such as the National Police, the Indonesian Military, the Attorney General's Office and the Supreme Court.
The government would also involve Islamic organizations, such as Indonesia's largest Muslim organizations Nahdlatul Ulama, Muhammadiyah and the Indonesian Ulema Council, to help the deradicalization programs, Luhut said.
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