Wed, 18 Oct 2000

Govt revises law on state of emergency

JAKARTA (JP): The government is revising the controversial law on state of emergency before it will be enacted within the next two weeks, said Minister of Justice and Human Rights Yusril Ihza Mahendra on Tuesday.

Yusril said a team from the justice and human rights ministry, the Defense Ministry, the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the National Police would start reviewing the law on Tuesday evening, while the deliberation by the House of Representatives was expected to be completed in a short time.

"The government will submit the draft revision of the law to the House as soon as possible so that the law will be effective in the next two weeks," he told The Jakarta Post after a hearing with the House's Commission II on legal and home affairs here.

Yusril, however, declined to reveal in details which articles in the law would be revised.

The government decided to postpone the endorsement of the law, which was passed by the House in September last year, following a strong protests from many sectors, including students.

Yusril said the House could not apply the amended 1945 Constitution as legal grounds to pass the law, citing that the Constitution was amended in August this year, while the House passed the law in September last year.

"So the amendment still requires the approval of the President," he said.

In a consultative meeting with President Abdurrahman Wahid last week, House leaders urged the government to automatically enact the law in accordance with the amended Constitution.

The amended Constitution stipulates that laws that are not revised within 30 days after being postponed will automatically become effective.

Yusril said the government had no plan to stop imposing the state of civil emergency in the troubled provinces of Maluku and North Maluku until security and order were restored in both provinces.

"The state of emergency in the two provinces will be maintained because the situation remains tense and the status is needed to prevent bloodshed between conflicting groups," he said.

He said the military would continue to take part in emergency administration in the two provinces because the declaration of the state of emergency was based on the stricter 1959 law.

"The state of emergency will be maintained although the new law will only take effect in the next two weeks," he said.

Meanwhile, the House Commission I on foreign affairs, defense and security delayed its hearing with Minister of Defense Mahfud M.D. on Tuesday after learning that the newly-appointed National Police Chief Gen. Bimantoro would accompany the minister to the hearing.

A source at the commission said the meeting with the minister was delayed because the House had opposed the appointment of Bimantoro as the new police chief. Bimantoro was appointed by President Abdurrahman Wahid in the absence of approval from the House as regulated by the 2000 MPR decree on the role of the military and the National Police. (rms)