A police officer looks into a courtroom during an appeal hearing for Indonesian radical Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir in Cilacap, Central Java, in January 2016. (Reuters Photo/Darren Whiteside)

Govt Draws Up Tougher Antiterror Law, Extends Pre-Charge Detention

BY :ALIN ALMANAR

JUNE 01, 2017

Jakarta. Lawmakers leading the deliberation on a new antiterrorism bill said on Thursday (01/06) they are considering giving Indonesian police the power keep suspected terrorists in detention without charges for at least 14 days or even more.

Government officials and lawmakers, during a hearing on revisions to the existing law on Wednesday, provisionally agreed to extend the pre-charge detention of suspected terrorists to 14 days.

The agreement came after twin suicide bomb attacks rocked a bus terminal in East Jakarta, killing five, and renewed calls for the lawmakers to pass the antiterrorism bill, the deliberation for which has dragged on for over a year amid protests from rights activists.

The 2003 antiterror law prescribed a maximum detention of seven days without charges for suspected terrorists. The government sought to extend the period to 30 days in its earlier revisions.

If the current agreement is approved, police will have 14 days to detain suspected terrorists, question them and collect evidence against them before naming them as suspects or release them.

"[The bill] is not final yet. We have to make sure the law respects justice and human rights," said Supiadin Aries Saputra, the deputy head of a special House of Representatives committee that has been working on the antiterrorism bill.

Lawmakers and government officials also proposed an additional "extension" to the pre-charge detention on Wednesday's hearing, but remained undecided on it.

Extension to the arrest, not detention, of an alleged criminal has never been stipulated under the country's criminal law code. It stipulates that an alleged criminal can have his arrest extended for one day.

"It will be a lex specialis (special law). Questioning an alleged terrorist is not as simple as questioning a common criminal," Supiadin told the Jakarta Globe.

But legal rights activist Supriyadi Widodo Eddyono said longer pre-charge detention opens up more possibilities for torture.

"Pre-charge detention that exceeds the standard time will lead to 'incommunicado' detention," Supriyadi, executive director of the Jakarta-based Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, said. "The shorter, the better."

The government had proposed a total detention period of up to 450 days in its earlier revisions, much longer than the 180 days stipulated in the 2003 antiterrorism law.

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