JAKARTA, RADICALISM STUDIES – Indonesians suspected of plotting to carry out an act of terrorism could be detained for up to six months under proposed new laws in response to the Jakarta terror attacks.
The tough measure could prove contentious in Indonesia, which until 1998 was a military dictatorship under which thousands of people were detained without trial.
After the January 14 bomb and gun attacks, which killed eight people in central Jakarta, police called for laws to be tightened.
“We can detect a terrorist network but we can’t act before they have committed a crime,” said national police chief Badrodin Haiti. “That is the weakness of our laws.”
The draft legislation, seen by Fairfax Media, says an individual could be detained for up to six months if it was suspected they would carry out terrorism.
It would also become an offence to join a terrorist group such as Islamic State, or recruit others, with a maximum punishment of seven years’ jail.
Indonesian authorities currently can’t press charges against those who declare their support for IS or who have joined terrorist groups overseas.
Under the proposed changes, Indonesians who participated in military training or a war overseas, with the intent to commit or plan an act of terrorism, could be stripped of citizenship.
The draft legislation, which amends the anti-terror bill passed after the 2002 Bali bombings, will soon be debated by parliament.
Indonesian Chief Security Minister Luhut Panjaitan said the revisions needed to be explained to the public, who may be concerned about human rights violations.
“If you want to bring harmony, security and safety to your lives, you also have to give some of your freedom,” he told Channel NewsAsia last month.
Last year Malaysia’s government passed a highly controversial law that allowed terror suspects to be held for two years, renewable for an unlimited period.
Mr Panjaitan said Indonesia’s response was more moderate than similar legislation in Singapore and Malaysia: “However we want to move fast, what we call preventive action.”
He said on Friday that he hoped the new laws would be finalised within two months.
However Human Rights Watch has urged the parliament to reject amendments that were “unnecessarily broad and vague and would unjustifiably restrict freedom of expression”.
HRW’s deputy Asia director Phelim Kine said the government had not provided any details on the judicial process for stripping a person of their citizenship. “The government response to the January 14 attacks in Jakarta should not include overboard laws that will unjustifiably restrict the rights and freedoms that Indonesians have fought so hard to achieve,” he said.
Deakin University terrorism expert Professor Greg Barton believes passing laws that would make joining IS a crime would be reasonably straightforward.
“There is a strong backlash against IS because of a sense of it being against the Republic of Indonesia – people who support it are seen as being somehow traitors,” said Professor Barton.
However the prosecution of thought crimes during the Suharto era and the harsh Malaysian laws were likely to be raised when debating the six months’ preventative detention measure.
“Long detention without charges being laid will be a real challenge for them [to pass], as it should be,” Professor Barton said.
“The Jokowi government would need to be able to speak to the safeguards they have got in place.”
Source: Sydney Morning Herald
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