The revision was prompted by January's terror attack in Jakarta. (Reuters Photo/Beawiharta)

Antiterror Bill Yet to Uphold Rights of Long-Neglected Victims


JUNE 02, 2016

Jakarta. Calls from activists are growing for lawmakers to include detailed provisions for the rights of terror victims, under the government's proposed antiterrorism bill.

While seeking tougher action against perpetrators, the revisions to the 2003 antiterrorism law — currently being deliberated — lack stipulations on issues neglected by the government for years, according to the activists.

The bill promises the protection of investigators, prosecutors, judges, advocates, experts and witnesses by the state from any kind of threat during the legal process of terror cases.

However, the revisions, which seek longer arrest and detention as well as revocation of citizenship for alleged terrorists, do not stipulate protection for victims of terror attacks. No improvements will be added to provisions for the rights of victims in the current law, which activists say is itself insufficient for victims seeking help.

The government has tried to fill this void with a 2006 law, mandating the Witness and Victim Protection Agency (LPSK) to assist victims with obtaining medical, psychological and psychosocial aid.

But the implementation has faced stumbling blocks, said Abdul Haris Semendawai, head of the LPSK.

"Who has the authority to determine who the victims are?" Abdul said before the House of Representatives' special committee for the antiterrorism bill recently. "It is hard to get letters stating that someone is a victim of terrorism."

The situation becomes apparent in the aftermath of terror incidents in Indonesia.

Southeast Asia's largest country saw five major terror attacks in the 2000s, the deadliest of which were the Bali bombings of 2002, when 202 people were killed and 300 others injured.

The incident followed five other terror attacks with a total of 1,096 victims, 274 of whom were killed and 822 injured.

But none of these victims have received full assistance from the government, said Vivi Normasari, head of the Indonesian Survivors Foundation (YPI).

"Fourteen years on, we have yet to feel the presence of the state in victims' protection," she told the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday (01/06).

Most of the victims instead received assistance from foreign non-government organizations and international donors, according to the YPI.

The LPSK law also stipulates that victims of terror attacks are entitled to compensation from the government, which is also stated under the 2003 antiterrorism law.

But efforts to obtain this compensation have been hampered by complicated legal processes, said Hasibullah Sastrawi, director of the Indonesian Alliance for Peace (AIDA).

"It is nearly impossible because it needs to go through the court."

Calls for tougher antiterrorism regulations mounted in January, when attacks by Islamic State sympathizers in downtown Jakarta killed eight people, four of whom were the attackers.

The government has since moved to revise the 2003 law, mainly aiming to make it easier for authorities to move against terror suspects. "The target of these terrorists is the system, the state. But these victims have to bear the consequences," said Hasibullah.