Groups protest draft regulation on TNI role in counter-terrorism

CNN Indonesia – May 10, 2020
Indonesian military counter-terrorism troops – Undated (CNN)

Jakarta – The Civil Society Coalition has expressed its opposition to a draft presidential regulation (Perpres) on the Indonesian Military’s Role in Handling Terrorism being deliberated any further by the House of Representatives (DPR).

The groups say that the regulation could threaten human rights given that the Indonesian military (TNI) does not allow its personnel to be tried in civil courts even though it would be active the area of law enforcement involving terrorism.

The Civil Society Coalition is made up of several non-government organisations such as the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Indonesian Human Rights Watch (Imparsial), the Institute for Public Research and Advocacy (Elsam), the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI), Amnesty International Indonesia (AII), Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), the Legal Aid Institute for the Press (LBH Pers) and the Community Legal Aid Institute (LBH Masyarakat).

“It poses a threat because it gives a very broad and excessive mandate to the TNI. Moreover, the regulation is not accompanied with a mechanism for military accountability in which the TNI clearly submits to the public judicial system”, said the Civil Society Coalition in an official release on Saturday May 10.

One of the issues highlighted by the group is the TNI’s failure to submit to the public judicial system because the TNI has its own judicial system for trying its members during the conduct of operations.

This is dangerous because under the regulation, liability for actions committed during operations which result in volitions of citizen’s rights is unclear.

In addition to this, giving the authority to the military to take direct and independent action in dealing with the threat of domestic terrorist crimes is not in accordance with the essence of its formation as an institution of state defence.

“They’re trained to face a war, not law enforcement. So it is wrong and an error if the military is given the authority to take direct and independent action domestically”, continued the group.

Actually, said the Coalition, the military does not need to have the authority to prevent or tackle terrorism because this is already regulated under the criminal justice system, where these actions are carried out by law enforcement officials such as the police.

However, the involvement of the TNI in handling domestic acts of terrorism should be limited to providing assistance to relevant law enforcement agencies if there is an escalation in the terror level.

So, in principle, it cannot be done independently as stipulated in the draft presidential regulation. “And their involvement must be through an political decision by the state”, said the Coalition.

One of the dangers of the military acting independently is that there will be an overlapping of roles between the two state institutions because they have the same authority. In addition to this, the draft presidential regulation conflicts with Law Number 34/2004 on the TNI.

“In this draft Perpres, the deployment of the TNI in tackling terrorism can be done simply through a presidential decision without prior consultation with the DPR which is required under the TNI law”, wrote the Coalition in the release.

Because of this, the group is asking that all of the political party factions in the DPR reject the draft presidential regulation because there are serious problems in the substance of the draft.

In addition to this, they are also asking President Widodo not to sign the regulation for the reasons already cited, one of which is the focus of human rights in Indonesia.

The presidential regulation on the involvement of the Indonesian military in handling terrorism represents flows on from Law Number 5/2018 on the Eradication of Terrorist Acts. One of these is contained in Article 43I.

“The Indonesian military’s role in tackling acts of terrorism represents part of military operations aside from war”, reads Paragraph (1). Paragraph (3) states that the stipulations on the involvement of the TNI shall be regulated in a presidential regulation. (ryn/arh)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Militer Tak Tunduk Peradilan Umum, Perpres Terorisme Diprotes”.]