Indonesia passes stronger anti-terror Bill, allows longer detention and pre-emptive arrests

A man looks at burnt motorcycles following a bomb blast outside the Surabaya Centre Pentecostal Church in Surabaya, Indonesia, on May 13, 2018.

JAKARTA - Indonesia's Parliament on Friday (May 25) passed an anti-terror Bill into law that will allow the authorities to make pre-emptive arrests and detain terror suspects longer, based only on preliminary leads.

Parliament deputy Speaker Agus Hermanto, who presided over the plenary session on Friday, asked members of the House: "Let us ask all factions. Do we agree to ratify the anti-terror Bill?" In acclamation, they said they agreed.

The new law allows the authorities to hold anyone suspected of planning a terror attack without charge for up to 21 days.‎

The move extends the current seven-day maximum. In the past, this seven-day limit had forced police investigators to release suspects while they were still attempting to build a case and gather evidence to prosecute ahead of a definitive detention.

The definitive detention is extended from 180 days to 290, of which 200 will be allocated for police investigators to prepare an investigation dossier and 90 for state prosecutors to prepare an indictment to be tabled to court.

The new legislation is part of sweeping changes to Indonesia's anti-terror Bill that President Joko Widodo proposed in early 2016.

Its deliberation was hastened after the coordinated suicide bombings of three churches in Surabaya, East Java, on May 14, which killed 12 innocent people.

The new law penalises anyone who is a member of any group declared by a court as a terrorist organisation, even if the person has not committed a concrete act of planning or launched an attack.

This stipulation would allow police to act pre-emptively before an attack is carried out.

"Anyone being a member or anyone recruiting others to be members... may face a minimum two years and maximum seven years‎ of jail term," according to the new law. "Founders, leaders, officials, or anyone controlling the organisation face a minimum three and maximum 12 years."

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