New Indonesian regulation gives stronger protection for past terror victims

The long-awaited government regulation ensures the right of terror attack victims to seek compensation for damages incurred in the past. PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Joko Widodo administration has issued a long-awaited government regulation that ensures the right of terror attack victims to seek compensation for damages incurred in the past.

The policy, issued on July 7 as an implementing regulation of the 2018 Terrorism Law, will allow victims and their families affected by past terrorist attacks in Indonesia who have yet to receive state compensation to seek it through the Witness and Victim Protection Agency (LPSK) without having to wait for a court order.

But they have only three years to apply for compensation - from 2018 when the law came into force and until 2021.

Government Regulation No. 35/2020 defines past terror victims as people impacted by past acts of terrorism in Indonesia since the inception of the first terrorism law in 2002. This includes victims of the 2002 Bali bombings.

The 2018 Terrorism Law has been lauded for opening the door for past terror victims to seek compensation through the LPSK.

However, the law requires the recently issued implementing regulation to detail the payment mechanism for the victims, thus enabling the LPSK to disburse the compensation funds.

LPSK deputy chairman Edwin Partogi Pasaribu said the new regulation was a significant advancement of the rights of terror victims. It also revised an outdated implementing regulation, which was crafted before the 2018 law was enacted.

"This government regulation is needed because it is an extension to the 2018 Terrorism Law," Mr Edwin told The Jakarta Post on Monday (July 28). "This government regulation accommodates victims rights on three events: past terror attacks, future terror attacks and terror incidents that affected Indonesians living abroad."

The LPSK estimated that around 1,100 people could fall into this category of past terror victims - about 400 of whom have already sought compensation from the agency long before the new regulation was issued.

But without the revised regulation, the LPSK could not process the requests from victims of past cases that had been closed by the court without any compensation orders.

The LPSK has compensated a number of victims of past terror attacks before the new policy was enacted, such as the victims of the 2016 church bombing in Samarinda, East Kalimantan and the 2016 Thamrin bombing in Jakarta, although payments were made only after the perpetrators were sent to jail.

Sucipto Hari Wibowo, chairman of the Indonesian Survivors Foundation (YPI), a civil organisation that helps victims of terrorist attacks, welcomed the government's move, saying that the assurance over the compensation could help terror victims to become more resilient and overcome dark chapters in their lives.

"This is the kind of intervention that should have been made from the get-go. In the past, payment of compensation was stalled due to the absence of regulations," said Mr Sucipto, who himself was injured in the 2004 Australian Embassy bomb attack in Kuningan, South Jakarta.

"This intervention can help motivate victims psychologically as they transition to become a survivor."

Another organisation that works with victims of terror attacks, the Alliance for a Peaceful Indonesia (AIDA), has been pushing for the issuance of the regulation, considering the three-year deadline for the government to resolve compensation for victims of past cases since the enactment of the 2018 law.

"Although it cannot replace material and immaterial damages the victims and their families have suffered, the fulfillment of compensation is an integral part of the government's protection of victims' [RIGHTS]," AIDA's chairman Hasibullah Satrawi said in a statement.

The new regulation also stipulates the rights of Indonesian victims of terror attacks abroad to seek medical and psychological assistance, and compensation from the government. This was a provision the LPSK formulated after the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand, in which one Indonesian was killed and two others were injured.

Presidential expert staff member Dini Shanti Purwono said the new regulation represented the Jokowi administration's commitment to protect victims of terror attacks at home and abroad.

"The government understands the difficulty and pain experienced by families who have become victims of terror acts, which is why it was amended -- to ease their financial burden," Ms Dini said in a statement.

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