Thu, 28 Aug 2003


Antiterror law revision gets tough on explosives

M. Taufiqurrahman The Jakarta Post Jakarta

The government is seeking to impose harsher punishments on those who illegally sell substances that can be used for making bombs.

In a draft revision of Antiterrorism Law No. 15/2002 made available to The Jakarta Post on Tuesday, the deliberate and illegal sale of substances that can be used in the production of explosives will be punishable by up to 12 years in prison.

Article 9A of the draft, which is dated July 22, also stipulates that if the substances are subsequently proved to have been used in a terrorist act, the supplier could be jailed for up to 15 years.

The move is seen as an attempt by the government to tighten its control over the distribution of substances that can be used in the manufacture of explosives. Indonesia has been rocked by a series of bomb attacks, especially since 2000, but security officials have not been able to fully control the distribution of such substances.

Last November, Sylvester Tendean, the owner of the Tidar chemical stores, was prosecuted for his involvement in the Bali bombings. The main suspect in the deadly bombings, Amrozi, admitted that he had acquired the chemicals used to manufacture the bombs from Sylvester's store.

In the draft, the government also plans to get tougher on those who aid and abet terrorists.

Under the current law, a maximum sentence of 15 years' imprisonment may be imposed on those who provide assistance to the perpetrators of terrorist acts. The draft, however, also provides for a maximum 12-year term for those who had prior knowledge about a possible terrorist attack but failed to alert the authorities.

"And if the possible terrorist attack actually happens, the same person could face up to 15 years in jail," the draft says.

Contrary to the fears of some, the revision of the antiterrorism law does not seem destined to result in a draconian Singapore or Malaysia-style Internal Security Act (ISA), or give more power to the military in the fight against terrorism.

As the draft now stands, it makes no mention of the involvement of Indonesian Military (TNI) intelligence in the fight against terror.

It only says in Article 26 that intelligence reports from institutions other than the police could be used as evidence after being authenticated by the National Police chief.

Earlier, the leading supporter of the revision of the antiterrorism law, Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, said that the government would give military intelligence the power to detect and act on terror threats that required an immediate response.

Susilo made the proposal on the ground that the military was underutilized while the police were suffering from personnel shortages.

The National Intelligence Agency (BIN) has also asked for more powers in the war against terrorism, saying that its current marginal role had hampered the agency in its efforts to prevent terrorist attacks.

BIN director Hendropriyono complained that the intelligence agency could not take preemptive measures as it had no powers of arrest. "Without the power to make arrests, BIN is like a German shepherd dog kept on its leash by its owner so that it can't chase after its quarry," he said.

Indonesia has several intelligence organizations, including BIN, Indonesian Military intelligence (BAIS), and intelligence units in the National Police and the Attorney General's Office.

Critics have rejected the plan to give the military more powers to fight against terrorism, saying that this could easily lead to human rights abuses.

Instead of asking for more powers, they say, the intelligence agencies should improve their coordination with each other.