Draft intelligence law: Don’t forget human rights violations

Kompas – April 6, 2011
Students protest against draft intelligence law (Republika)
Students protest against draft intelligence law (Republika)

Jakarta – The deliberations on the Draft State Intelligence Law cannot be separated from the historical context of the role of intelligence agencies in past cases of human rights violations.

This was one of the recommendations made by the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) on Tuesday April 5. The draft law should not only be reviewed by the House of Representatives (DPR), but taken to the locations of intelligence operations.

Kontras Coordinator Haris Azhar said intelligence agencies were deeply involved in providing unlimited power to the New Order regime of former President Suharto. The power of these intelligence agencies can still be felt to this day, as evidenced by the difficulty experienced by independent state institutions such as the National Human Rights Commission in gaining access to intelligence documents on cases that resulted in human rights violations.

Cases such as the Tanjung Priok shooting of Muslim protesters in 1984, the Talangsari massacre in 1989, the mysterious shooting (petrus) of alleged criminals in 1983 and 1985 and the Military Operational Zone (DOM) in Aceh provide ample evidence of intelligence operations, from intimidation to abductions and assassinations.

These cases along with other facts indicate that intelligence agencies are designed to be closed and with minimal accountability. These agencies are mostly used to preserve the power of the governments, and this could be repeated in the draft intelligence law after it obtains input from the government.

Ideally, state intelligence agencies should not have the authority to conduct investigations and criminal investigations. Kontras also made a note that this be accommodated by correction mechanisms should intelligence operations violate human rights. The state is obliged to provide legal certainly on past cases of human rights violations that involve intelligence agencies by bringing the perpetrators before an ad hoc human rights court.

Earlier, during a public hearing between the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), and the National Antiterror Agency (BNPT) with the DPR’s commission I on defense, foreign affairs and communication, BIN chief Sutanto said that firmer laws are needed to tackle terrorism. In carrying out its task of preventing terrorism, intelligence agencies need the authority to arrest and detain people for 7 x 24 hours. “Terror is a network, it cannot be done piece by piece, there would defiantly be leaks”, said Sutanto.

Commission I member Tjahjo Kumolo saw the importance of a better structuring of the intelligence agencies. “There must be one ‘remote control’, direct accountability to the president”, he said. (EDN)

Source: RUU Intelijen: Jangan Lupakan Pelanggaran Hak Asasi – Kompas. Rabu, 06 April 2011

[Translated by James Balowski.]