Setara Issues Warning to Not Rush Intelligence Bill

The Jakarta Globe

A human rights watchdog has warned against rushing the passing of the intelligence bill and making revisions to antiterror laws simply because people are more aware of the capabilities of the Indonesian Islamic State movement. 

The Setara Institute for Peace and Democracy warned on Monday that even as the nation was in dire need of a well-rounded intelligence law, the bill needed thorough consideration and a number of crucial points — particularly pertaining to human rights — called for careful deliberation. 

The bill is being debated by the House of Representatives. Among its main points is to give the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) the authority to preemptively arrest suspected terrorists before they carry out attacks. 

Such wide-reaching powers have drawn criticism from rights groups and lawmakers, who say the bill’s provisions could be abused in the fight against the Islamic state movement known as the NII. 

“To use the penetration of the NII in order to legitimize the passing of the intelligence bills and make considerable revisions to the antiterror law by giving more powers to the BIN is wrong,” Setara founder Hendardi said on Monday. “In truth, intelligence has great authority and scope not just at the BIN but also within the National Police, the Indonesian Military and our ministries.” 

BIN’s duty is to collect information, analyze it and establish what kind of strategic measures need to be taken in relation to threats to the nation, Hendardi continued. 

Ismail Hasani, a researcher at Setara, said the right to conduct intensive interrogations of suspects who were apprehended for unclear reasons should be taken out of the intelligence bill. 

“A suspect will be interrogated intensively 24/7 and he or she will not be accompanied by a lawyer. Such arrests are essentially, secret,” Ismail said. 

Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar had said recently that radicalism and increased bomb threats called for the swift passage into law of a draft intelligence bill. 

“Threats are everywhere, from bomb terror to NII. Is this not making it urgently needed?” Patrialis said. 

The NII, a banned organization of hard-line Muslims, has a goal of establishing an Islamic caliphate in Indonesia. 

Patrialis said the revival of terrorism and subversion by the NII was attributable to a lack of a strong legal foundation to support the work of intelligence personnel. Without an intelligence law, he said, agents could not work to their full potential. 

Tubagus Hasanuddin, the deputy chairman of House Commission I, which oversees security affairs, has argued that the core problem is not lack of intelligence gathering but rather a lack of tolerance training for impressionable youth. 

Hasanuddin, an Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker, told the Jakarta Globe that the ministries of education and religious affairs should move to shield students from falling under the influence of the NII to narrow the field of recruits for radicalism. 

“The nature of the intelligence bill is repressive. It’s not that urgent to deliberate the bill just because of the NII cases,” he said.

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