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Jakarta Post

Lawmakers not happy with govt terror law plan

  • Tama Salim

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, January 21, 2016   /  05:10 pm

Lawmakers have expressed reservations about the government'€™s plan to amend antiterrorism legislation, saying the plan is a knee-jerk reaction to the recent terror attack.

Members of the House of Representatives'€™ commissions overseeing legal affairs and defense and security issues have spoken out against a recent deal reached between the executive and legislative branches to bolster the country'€™s counterterrorism efforts by amending antiterrorism legislation, saying that the solution lies in improved coordination.

'€œI think that discussions between the House leadership and the President don'€™t substantially represent the [opinion of the entire] House, especially without prior consultation with the relevant commissions,'€ said Mahfudz Siddiq, chairman of House Commission I overseeing defense and intelligence, in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Mahfudz said both his commission and House Commission III overseeing legal affairs, human rights and security had agreed to host a joint-session with the Office of the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister and relevant institutions next month to review the implementation of existing provisions, in an attempt to find solutions in the fight against terrorism.

Mahfudz said it was '€œtoo early to support'€ the government'€™s plan to introduce new provisions into anti-terror laws in the aftermath of last week'€™s attack in Central Jakarta.

The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) politician urged the government to formally propose the revisions to be included in the House'€™s 2016 national legislation priority list, which is currently undergoing deliberation by the House Legislative Body (Baleg).

'€œUnless the government is willing to go in a different direction by having the President issue a Perppu [government regulation in lieu of law]. Even then I would suggest they do a comprehensive review of the situation '€” there'€™s no need to be reactive or divisive,'€ he said, adding that discussions should involve all relevant stakeholders.

A commitment was made on Tuesday following a meeting between President Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo'€™s administration and members of legislative and judicial bodies, with the aim of introducing new legal guidelines to strengthen the country'€™s counterterrorism efforts.

Jokowi said that his government was still mulling whether to propose an amendment to existing laws or issue a Perppu.

The government will press ahead with revisions to Law No. 15/2003 and Law No. 9/2013 on the prevention and eradication of terrorism, despite concerns that the changes would infringe on civil liberties and reinstate New Order-era intimidation tactics.

One of the provisions in the amendment would grant the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) the authority to carry out provisional arrests that would allow intelligence officials to detain suspects for up to two weeks.

Senior lawmaker TB Hasanuddin, a member of Commission I from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), said such powers could lead to human rights violations. '€œIt would be unfair if citizens had to covertly undergo questioning or trial [by intelligence officials],'€ Hasanuddin said at the House complex on Wednesday.

Commission III deputy chairman Desmond J. Mahesa of the Gerindra Party concurred, saying there was no need to give authority to more institutions in the fight against terrorism.

Under the existing antiterrorism legislation, only the police are allowed to hold suspects for one week based on preliminary evidence, which is obtainable from intelligence sources.

The new chairman of Baleg, Supratman Andi Agtas of the Gerindra Party said the strengthening of inter-agency coordination between BIN and the National Police would be enough to combat terrorism without having to amend the country'€™s existing antiterrorism laws.

'€œ[Gerindra] is convinced that the current antiterror laws are still very relevant, legitimizing the police force as the leading '€˜pro jusiticia'€™ law enforcement institution for handling terrorism,'€ the former prosecutor said on Wednesday.

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