YLBHI says new regulation on 'extremism' open to misinterpretation, abuse

CNN Indonesia – January 18, 2021
Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation Chairperson Asfinawati (centre) – Undated (CNN)

Jakarta – Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) Chairperson Asfinawati says that Presidential Regulation Number 7/2021 which was signed by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo earlier this month has the potential to give rise to conflicts in society.

Particularly in relation to public involvement in reporting groups to police which are suspected to be involved in extremist activities.

"We see that there is a tendency for the involvement of the public, meaning the criteria (of extremism) isn't clear, yes. In the case of terrorism it's clear, right", said Asfinawati when contacted by CNN Indonesia on Sunday January 17.

Asfinawati said that the law on social and mass organisations (Ormas Law) already stipulates that social organisations are not allowed to act as law enforcers. According to Asfinawati however, the involvement of the public under the presidential regulation is the complete opposite of this.

"Communities will act in accordance with the definition of their respective leaders. The definitions they have are often interpreted differently so it's prohibited under the Ormas Law. Moreover there isn't any (definition) [in the presidential regulation]", he added.

Speaking in the same vein as Asfinawati, Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) researcher Rivanlee Anandar says that the lack of a definition of extremism will give rise to subjectivity on the part of individuals or groups.

They will interpret for themselves who is extremist and who is not. The flow on from this is that it will give rise to stigmatisation of certain groups who may not actually be guilty.

Anandar believes that the aim of community policing should be to assist the police so that they are not too inflexible as tools of the state. But in the case of extremism, care is needed.

This is because it has the potential to be misused to silence individuals or certain groups.

"Community policing in this case must be truly careful in its implementation. Because based on the above notes, it has the potential to create horizontal conflicts", he added.

On Wednesday January 6 Widodo signed Presidential Regulation (Perpres) Number 7/2021. The Perpres regulates several implementary programs for the national action plan for the prevention and handling of extremism based on violence which is directed towards terrorism.

One of the programs included in the regulation is social training on reporting suspected extremism to the police. The government wants in improve the effectiveness of reporting to deter extremism. (isa/bmw)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "YLBHI Nilai Perpres Esktremisme Berpotensi Salah Tafsir".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20210118070223-12-594927/ylbhi-nilai-perpres-esktremisme-berpotensi-salah-tafsir