The Jakarta Post
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has proposed involving military forces to strengthen Indonesia's fight against terrorism through a presidential regulation (Perpres) that was submitted to the House of Representatives on Monday.
The Perpres is a follow up to Article 43 of Law No. 5/2018 on terrorism, stipulating the Indonesian Military (TNI) may be deployed in “combating acts of terrorism,” which should be regulated through a Perpres.
The move has been widely criticized, with activists warning that the TNI’s involvement would contradict the 2004 TNI Law and could pose a danger to law enforcement and human rights in Indonesia.
Arsul Sani, a member of the House Commission III overseeing legal affairs, said the Indonesian paradigm of combating terrorism was based on law enforcement practices through the criminal justice system. Therefore, the existence of Article 43 was debatable when the President issued the Perpres.
"The House hopes that the Perpres only accommodates ongoing [law enforcement] efforts. We are aware that the TNI and the police have been cooperating well, for example, in the Tinombala operation," he said.
He added that he was not opposed to the TNI’s involvement in combating terrorism, but the Perpres did not have a clear framework, which would contradicts Indonesia’s political paradigm for its fight against terrorism.
“The TNI’s involvement should be based on the scale of the threats, not by events like in the Perpres. We see that in modern democratic countries in Europe, there have been some cases of the military backing the police and vice versa, depending on the scale [of the threat],” said Asrul.
Article 9 of the regulation, a copy of which was obtained by The Jakarta Post, stipulates that the TNI's functions in terrorism enforcement include attacks against the President and Vice President and their families, former presidents and vice presidents and their families, high-ranked state guests in the country, Indonesians abroad and representatives from other countries or international organizations in Indonesia.
The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and civil groups that focus on the issue of human rights said the Perpres had given a broad and excessive mandate to the TNI, adding that the military would not be subject to general justice.
Choirul Anam of Komnas HAM said such a mandate could endanger law enforcement practices in combating terrorism, which may result in human rights violations.
"The involvement of the TNI in combating terrorism should only be in military operations other than war and should only assist the police, can’t be permanent and must depend on the situation.”
Al Araf of rights watchdog Imparsial said the Perpres should regulate a clear authority of the TNI as it is prone to be abused. He cited Article 3 of the regulation that allowing the TNI to carry out counterterrorism functions through intelligence activities and/or territorial operations, information operations and other operations.
However, the regulation does not provide a more detailed explanation related to the "other operations".
"With this provision, the TNI can be involved in handling criminal acts of terrorism both in the country and abroad. Therefore, it has the potential to endanger human rights in Indonesia," he said.