Indonesian lawmaker calls for oversight of police under revised anti-terror Bill

Indonesian police personnel stand guard as an anti-terror police squad raid the home of a terror suspect in Malang, on Feb 20, 2016.
Indonesian police personnel stand guard as an anti-terror police squad raid the home of a terror suspect in Malang, on Feb 20, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

Jakarta - There must be oversight of the enhanced powers given to the police under the revised anti-terror Bill being proposed in the wake of the Jan 14 attack in Jakarta, according to an Indonesian lawmaker on Tuesday (May 3).

Mr Hanafi Rais, who is vice-chairman of the Special Parliamentary Committee reviewing the Bill tabled by the Joko Widodo government, said deliberations on the new legislation includes, among others, issues such as a six-month preventive detention scheme and the death penalty for terrorists as well as whether there should be closer oversight on the counter-terrorism agency Detachment 88 (Densus 88).

"The right for police to not keep suspects in a certain location may raise transparency questions and if Densus 88 were given preventive detention authority, there must be accountability and transparency that come with such authority," said Mr Hanafi.

"This is why forming a supervisory body comprising members from civil society, the police and Parliament to keep watch of Densus 88's investigative work is important."

The politician from the National Mandate Party (PAN) was speaking during a dialogue organised by the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club. The dialogue centred on the evolving threat of terrorism in Indonesia and how deradicalisation campaigns can counter it.

Other panellists include Nahdlatul Ulama executive board chairman Said Aqil Siradj and the group's youth movement chairman Yaqut Cholil Qoumas.

Jakarta reeled in January this year from a brazen terror attack by four local militants who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Four bystanders were killed by suicide bombs and guns used by the terrorists.

The Indonesian government wants to revise the 2003 anti-terrorism Bill, enacted after the 2002 Bali bombings, to prevent another terror incident in the country.

Proposed legislative changes include preventive detention of terror suspects, making it an offence for citizens to join a militant group overseas - such as ISIS - as well as a clearer definition of what constitutes terrorism.

The preventive detention amendment will allow police to hold suspects involved in plans to mount a terror attack for up to six months. If passed, it would be the first time since the fall of former president Suharto in 1998 that Indonesia will see such a law enacted.

The final draft of the Bill was approved by President Joko Widodo and submitted to Parliament for ratification in February.

When asked if it would be ratified into law soon, Mr Hanafi said: "Probably by October, we may be able to issue the revised law. We will start deliberations again in mid-May."

He added that Parliament would need to hear more from the state, including the perspectives of the various chiefs of the military, police, National Intelligence Agency, as well as Islamic organisations such as Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammaidyah.

Mr Hanafi also said that the committee is weighing factors as to how Indonesia should address the issue of terrorism.

"Indonesia should not over-react nor should it under-react," he said.