A greater role for the military in counterterrorism operations should only be the last option amid tougher measures currently under consideration, the national human rights body said in its objection to a government proposal on Tuesday (30/05).
Controversy surrounding the plan re-emerged after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Monday proposed a greater role for the Indonesian Military (TNI) in a revision of the 2003 Antiterrorism Law, which is currently being deliberated.
His remarks came after last week’s Islamic-State-linked suicide bomb attack in East Jakarta, which led to renewed calls for the immediate passing of the antiterrorism bill. The bill seeks to give the police greater powers to act against suspected terrorists.
Over the past few decades, only the police had a special unit —the Special Detachment 88 unit, or known as Densus 88— specifically tasked with counterterrorism operations. Apart from the National Police, the government also has another body —the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT)— particularly tasked with preventing the spread of radical ideologies and performing their so-called deradicalization program to terrorism inmates.
“Countering terrorism still has to be based on the criminal justice system and must be carried out by the National Police, with a guarantee to protect human rights,” National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) commissioner Nur Kholis said in a statement.
“Involvement by the Indonesian Military in countering terrorism should only be the last measure,” he said, referring to the 2004 TNI Law. The law stipulates a range of military actions that can only be carried out under a state decree.
The government moved to revise the Antiterrorism Law after an Islamic State-linked attack in Central Jakarta in January last year. However, human rights concerns have so far held back the passing of the bill.