Jakarta's top cop pushes for more anti-terror powers

Terrorism is an extraordinary crime that requires extreme counter-measures, but the police will not abuse their powers to make arbitrary arrests, Indonesia's Police Chief Badrodin Haiti has said.

The four-star general's assurance at a meeting with lawmakers on Monday came as deliberations in Parliament over revisions to the country's anti-terror Bill move into the home stretch this month.

Among the proposed changes are additional powers for the police to conduct preventive detention, or arrest terrorist suspects before they carry out any acts of terrorism.

The revised Bill, if passed, will also reportedly make it a seizeable offence to spread provocative hate speech, perform paramilitary training and make bombs.

These are part of sweeping changes to Indonesia's anti-terror laws, first raised by the police and security agencies in the wake of the Jan 14 terrorist attack in Jakarta.

Human rights groups have voiced concerns over the pre-emptive measures, particularly after the death of a suspect under suspicious circumstances while in police custody.

Siyono, said to be a member of Neo Jemaah Islamiah, died in March while being interrogated by police officers from Detachment 88 (Densus 88). Neo Jemaah Islamiah is a splinter group of the Jemaah Islamiah terror network .

General Badrodin, however, said on Monday that there was "no need to worry about human rights violations" because the police already have safeguards in place.

"We already have our own internal mechanism to monitor Densus 88," he said, rejecting a suggestion from lawmakers to establish a supervisory body to provide oversight of the elite counter-terrorism unit.

He added that the police will work closely with Indonesia's military (TNI), National Counter-terrorism Agency and State Intelligence Agency (BIN) to monitor terror suspects.

Any arrest from the terrorist watchlist will also have to be supported with evidence or intelligence from BIN, said the general.

Both Gen Badrodin and TNI chief Gatot Nurmantyo, who was also at the meeting in South Jakarta, called for Parliament to push through the revisions to the anti-terror Bill.

The top cop told lawmakers at the meeting, held by politicians from Golkar and Hanura parties, that it is critical that the police are given more powers to act against people who plan acts of terror.

Francis Chan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 02, 2016, with the headline 'Jakarta's top cop pushes for more anti-terror powers'. Print Edition | Subscribe