Jakarta. Human rights activists have rejected a House of Representatives plan to reinstate deliberation on a government-proposed national security bill, which has been on the backburner for years over concerns that it may pose a threat to the rule of law.
House Speaker Ade Komarudin, who is a member of the Golkar Party, earlier this month proposed that the bill should be included in the institution's priority list, shortly after a meeting with officials from the Ministry of Defense.
"The most fundamental thing under the bill is the definition of national security. It must not lead to multiple interpretations," National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) commissioner Roichatul Aswidah said on Thursday (25/08). "National security is indeed a clause that could be used to limit human rights. But how to limit them should then be thoroughly reviewed."
Calling the bill "draconian," Al Araf of the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial) said: "What is perilous in the bill is that the description of what constitutes a threat is extremely broad. This could seriously limit freedoms."
The bill also includes provisions on the authority of the government to declare martial law in response to civil unrest, if it is considered a threat to national security.
Warning against jeopardizing the country's hard-won democracy, Al Araf said: "That authority is the easiest way for the government to suppress dissent."
The proposal has drawn mixed reaction from lawmakers. Considering the bill involves the interests of a wide range of elements within the government, Golkar has called for greater consultation on the matter to avoid jealousy between state institutions.
The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and United Development Party (PPP) have meanwhile called on state institutions to reach agreement on the requirements first and for the government to complete the draft bill before submitting it to the House for further deliberation.