Lawmakers Agree on Military Involvement in Counterterror Operations

The Jakarta Globe – Jakarta. Lawmakers have agreed on the active involvement of soldiers in counterterror operations, the chairman of a special antiterrorism bill committee at the parliament said, despite controversy over the proposal.

Seeking tougher action against alleged terrorists, the government-proposed bill allows military assistance to police in counterterrorism operations — allowable also by Indonesian Military (TNI) law.

Soldiers have been demanding a greater role in counterterror operations, a proposal police and human rights activists have vehemently opposed.

After months of deliberation, House of Representatives lawmakers seem to have convinced themselves that soldiers are needed in counterterrorism operations.

“That’s not a matter for debate anymore, we need military involvement,” Muhammad Syafi’i, chairman of a special committee at the parliament tasked with deliberating the revisions to the antiterrorism law, said on Thursday (20/10).

Lawmakers are of the opinion that terrorism still poses the biggest threat to state sovereignty, he added.

“The committee’s members have agreed that soldiers should not be kept as an auxiliary force in counterterror operations anymore. Soldiers can be ordered to arrest alleged terrorists.”

The move will not undermine the criminal justice system, as police and activists have warned, Syafi’i said, arguing that “the soldiers must always hand over the terrorists to police for investigation.”

Aside from military involvement, the antiterrorism bill also seeks longer period of arrest and detention for alleged terrorists, revocation of their citizenship and wiretapping without court permit.

The government revised the antiterrorism law earlier this year, when concerns over terror threats mounted following attacks by Islamic State sympathizers that killed four people in Central Jakarta.