The Jakarta Post
Experts say the government should act quickly with a new regulation allowing law enforcement agencies to prosecute individuals campaigning for or joining the Islamic State (IS) organization, also referred to as ISIS.
Terrorism expert Solahudin said such a regulation was urgently needed as many young people were eager to join the organization in Syria.
Solahudin said the existing regulations were woefully inadequate at managing the threats posed by IS.
'When the government arrested Indonesians who tried to travel to Syria for jihad in December last year, the government only charged them with visa violations because it didn't have the regulation,' Solahudin said.
More than 350 Indonesians have reportedly joined IS in the past two years. Out of the total number, one-third left Indonesia for Syria, while the rest were already studying or working in the Middle East before deciding to join the militant group.
Solahudin, however, was doubtful that the government would promptly issue a more stringent regulation.
'We tend to wait for terror attacks to happen before implementing preventive mechanisms,' he said.
The government has declared the IS organization illegal, as its ideologies run counter to Pancasila, the state ideology. However, IS supporters in Indonesia operate freely, unlike in Malaysia and Singapore, where they can be charged and detained upon attempted departures to the combat zone.
National Police deputy chief Comr. Gen. Badrodin Haiti, who was recently named acting National Police chief, has also called for more stringent regulations against IS, as the force has faced difficulties dealing with IS-related cases.
'After arresting people linked to ISIS, the police will try to identify a law that has been violated, but if we can't find a violation of any law, we have to drop the case,' said Badrodin, who recently assumed the duties of dismissed National Police chief, Gen. Sutarman.
Badrodin added that a revision of the 2003 law on counterterrorism would be a good first step in dealing with the IS threat. The Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) also called for more the enactment of more powerful regulations to contain the spread IS in Indonesia in its latest report titled 'Support for Islamic State in Indonesian Prisons'.
'The police can be as vigilant as possible in trying to detect planned travel to or from Syria, and they can coordinate with authorities in neighboring countries such as Singapore and Malaysia or even with Turkey. But as long as joining foreign military or terrorist organizations is not a crime, it is difficult to prosecute,' the report said.
According IPAC, the Indonesian government could take two initiatives to strengthen its hand.
First, the government could use Article 139A of the Criminal Code to forbid Indonesians from joining or trying to join IS in Syria. The article stipulates that rebellion with the intention of separating a region in whole or in part from the control of the government in power is punishable by five years in prison.
The second effort would be to move ahead with a plan aired by President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo to issue a regulation enabling the government to revoke the passports of individuals known to have left for Syria. Whether such a regulation is being seriously considered remains unclear.
Prominent lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis said that a new regulation on IS must not violate human rights.
'We have to combat terrorism and if the government needs a specific law, we should agree to that. However, the government should ensure that the law brings justice to the people,' Todung said.