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Indonesia: Call to Update Terrorism Law

(July 6, 2017) Speaking on June 27, 2017, Indonesian legislator Mulfachri Harahap called for the revision of the country’s law against terrorism to be completed swiftly. He referred to the recent fatal stabbing of a police officer on June 25 in Medan, in North Sumatra Province, allegedly by terrorists who support the Islamic State, and stated “[t]he incident should push [the House of Representatives] to finalize the discussions on the country’s antiterrorism laws as quickly as possible.  It is a priority for the House.”  (Hotman Siregar & Carlos Roy Fajarta, House Must Quickly Revise Antiterrorism Laws, Says PAN Lawmaker, JAKARTA GLOBE (June 27, 2017).)

A planned law to amend existing antiterrorism legislation is on the list of priority legislative projects of the House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat, or DPR). (RUU tentang Perubahan atas Undang-Undang Nomor 15 Tahun 2003 tentang Pemberantasan  Tindak Pidana Terorisme [Proposed Law to Amend Law Number 15, 2003, on Combating the Crime of Terrorism], listed under Prolegnas Prioritas (2017), DPR website (scroll down to No. 16 on the list) (last visited June 29, 2017).)  The process of amending the current law (Law No. 15, 2003, Apr. 4, 2003, DPR website (in Indonesian)), began in January 2016.  (Siregar & Fajarta, supra.)

Discussion has focused on differences between legislators on several matters, including the role of the military in fighting terrorism. (Id.)  The Speaker of the House, Setya Novanto, said on June 25 that the National Police and the Army should cooperate against terrorism.  He stressed that the police must be alert to avoid unjustified arrests and added, “[t]ogether we must eradicate this vicious crime [of terrorism].  Citizens must also be vigilant.”  (Id.)

In the wake of the June 25 attack in Medan, the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, a human rights group located in Jakarta, expressed support for an increased effort to combat terrorism, in part by allowing the police more leeway in executing preventative measures. Hendardi, the Chairman of the Institute, stated “[t]he police need to be given pretrial authority to be able to prevent terrorist attacks.  That could be included in the revisions to the current anti-terrorism law.”  (Police Need ‘Pretrial Authority’ to Dig Deeper on Suspected Terrorists: Rights Group, JAKARTA GLOBE (June 28, 2017).) Hendardi added that to avoid human rights violations by the police, Indonesia should place its anti-terrorism laws under the criminal justice system, which would be able to investigate any abuses.  (Id.)

The Setara Institute states on its webpage that it is “dedicated to the ideal that everyone should be treated equal [sic] while respecting diversity, giving priority to solidarity and upholding human dignity.” (Setara Institute Profile (Oct. 14, 2005), Setara Institute website.)