Jakarta urged to pass anti-terror Bill revisions

Indonesian police officers boosting security in Jakarta on Tuesday, the last day of the holy month of Ramadan, after a suicide bomb attack in Solo, Central Java. Security analysts say the bombing may be part of coordinated strikes around the world du
Indonesian police officers boosting security in Jakarta on Tuesday, the last day of the holy month of Ramadan, after a suicide bomb attack in Solo, Central Java. Security analysts say the bombing may be part of coordinated strikes around the world during the holy month by those loyal to ISIS militants.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Call to prioritise changes to prevent further attacks

Lawmakers in Indonesia are pushing for a draft Bill, which expands police powers in counter-terrorism, to be passed quickly, following Tuesday's suicide-bombing in Solo, Central Java.

Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly said revisions to the Anti-Terrorism Bill of 2003, still being deliberated by Parliament, must be prioritised to prevent further attacks.

"The incident in Solo makes us realise again that the threat of terrorism is real," said Mr Yasonna, on the sidelines of an Aidilfitri event on Wednesday night. "It's a global phenomenon... and it will continue."

House Speaker Ade Komarudin and his counterpart in the People's Consultative Assembly, Mr Zulkifli Hasan, in a rare unified voice, echoed the call to pass the tougher anti-terror laws which have been under deliberation for months.

Mr Ade said on Wednesday in Tempo news that the latest incident is a new impetus for the draft Bill, first tabled by the government after a Jan 14 terror attack in Jakarta. He said proposed changes to the law must be able to counter terrorism "structurally and intellectually".

Mr Zulkifli called for unity in the war on terror, calling the attacks a "violation of human rights". He told Antara news he hoped Bill revisions will be done this year. "The faster it is completed, the better it will be."

On Tuesday, a local man named Nur Rohman blew himself up outside a police station in President Joko Widodo's home town. An officer who intercepted the attacker before he got near the station was hurt.

Nur Rohman was a member of a domestic terror cell that had ties to Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian militant now fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Security analysts said the Solo bombing may be part of coordinated strikes around the world during the holy month of Ramadan by those loyal to the militant group.

Indonesia's Anti-Terrorism Bill, first enacted the year after the 2002 Bali bombings, makes it illegal for anyone to run a terrorist cell. But it falls short of extending punishment to anyone pledging support to or joining groups such as ISIS. Hundreds of Indonesians have travelled to the Middle East to support or fight for ISIS since 2013.

Indonesia's spy chief Sutiyoso said: "When a militant returns home from overseas, we cannot arrest him, although we know he was a combatant overseas."

Once the proposed changes to the Bill are passed, police will be able to hold suspects involved in plans to mount a terror attack for up to six months, instead of just a week.

Revisions to the law will also make it an offence for citizens to join a militant group overseas, as well as provide a clearer definition of what constitutes terrorism.

Indonesian Muslim Scholars Association chief Jimly Asshiddiqie on Thursday proposed that the authorities immediately take away the passports of Indonesians who have joined ISIS or are planning to leave to take part in conflicts overseas.

"We cannot fix the problem just by revising a law," he said, adding that drafting a new law will not guarantee its implementation, and the process to ratify it takes time.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 09, 2016, with the headline 'Jakarta urged to pass anti-terror Bill revisions'. Print Edition | Subscribe