Jakarta. Chairman of Jakarta-based human rights group Setara Institute, Hendardi, said the government needs to step up its efforts to combat terrorism, including by giving police the authority to conduct more preventive measures, following another suspected terrorist attack in Medan, North Sumatra, that killed a police officer.
"The police need to be given pretrial authority to be able to prevent terrorist attacks. That could be included in the revisions to the current anti-terrorism law," Hendardi said, as quoted by Suara Pembaruan.
On Sunday, a police officer in Medan was stabbed at a police station and later died of his wounds. The attack was carried out allegedly by two Islamic State supporters, one of whom was shot dead by the police while trying to escape, and the other wounded and then arrested.
The surviving suspect, identified as Syawaluddin, had reportedly spent six months living in Syria in 2013.
According to Hendardi, pretrial authority will give police the ability to investigate persons suspected of terrorism because of their past involvement in military training or war.
Hendardi said some terrorist attacks in Indonesia were conducted by militants who may have had previous involvement in terrorism.
"However, the police have limited authority to conduct preventive measures. If there's not enough evidence, the person [being suspected] cannot be dealt with," the Setara chairman said.
Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace is an organization that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom and human rights.
To avoid possible human rights violations if a pretrial authority is given to the police, Hendardi said Indonesia's anti-terrorism laws should be put under its criminal justice regime.
In that way, abusive practices in preventing terrorism can be investigated and dealt with by the law.
The Indonesian government had started revising the country's anti-terrorism law in January last year after a deadly attack in Jakarta's central business district killed eight people. Since the assault, a series of other attacks had followed — targeting mainly policemen — including a suicide bomb attack at the Kampung Melayu bus station in East Jakarta last month.