Indonesia passes tougher anti-terror Bill

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s parliament unanimously approved a tougher anti-terrorism law lengthening detention periods and involving the military in counter-terrorism policing, spurred into action by recent bombings that involved children as perpetrators.

Rights groups have criticised the revisions as overly broad and vague and warned against rushing them into law.

The scope for the military to become involved in counterterrorism operations is contentious because it backtracks on two decades of keeping soldiers out of areas under civilian authority.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo had threatened to impose the changes by special decree if parliament didn’t rapidly approve them. Changes were first proposed after a January 2016 suicide bombing and gun attack in Jakarta but languished in the legislature.

Parliament deputy Speaker Agus Hermanto, who presided over the plenary session yesterday, 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.

Its deliberation was hastened after the coordinated suicide bombings of three churches in Surabaya, East Java, on May 14, which killed 12 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.” — The Straits Times/Asia News Network/AP

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