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Potential hazards of the National Security Bill

Sumber: THEJAKARTAPOST.COM | Tgl terbit: Selasa, 28 Februari 2012

On Feb. 20, retired police officers, including former police chiefs, met at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Jakarta, to show their rejection of the National Security Bill. Their reason was that the bill undermined police authority as the enforcers of law, security and order. They concluded that the bill would place the police under military control.

In 2006, the old bill drew out controversies between chiefs of the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the police. Given this, the president decided to withdraw it. The police then refused to be placed under a ministry, and the two institutions shared different views on definitions of "security" and "authority" in response to security threats.

On May 23, 2011, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono submitted the National Security Bill to the parliament. The new bill is also to clarify grey areas between both actors.

Considering what happened with the proposed bill in 2006, representatives from the TNI and the police then agreed to counter-sign it on Dec. 22, 2010, prior to submitting the bill to the legislature.

In my review, many articles are problematic in their formulation; from the definition of "national security" to the special powers granted to non-policing agencies.

The bill defines national security as a "commitment of the nation for every kind of effort to protect and preserve the existence, integrity and sovereignty of the nation and state". However, national security is better defined as a "condition", not a "commitment".

For example, it should be "a condition that has to be realized and maintained by the government, then the condition must be felt and enjoyed by all members of the society" (Ign Soeprapto, 2011).

According to Article 16 of the bill, the targets of threat are: first, the nation and state; second, continuity of national development; third, society; and fourth, the person. The elucidation on points one, three and four is sufficient as it reflects the balanced paradigm centered on both the state and the people.

But point two is open to interpretation. Trade unions, environmental and indigenous people's rights activists could be accused of being enemies of "the national development" or of "harming national interest, development and/or stability". Without elucidation of the term, their critical activities could be wiretapped, criminalized or covertly abducted.

The most crucial one is regarding excessive oversight power. Article 54 says "oversight over the administration of the National Security System will be done in multiple layers with a concentric oversight mechanism in accordance with the principle of democratic oversight that includes: a) close oversight; b) executive oversight; c) legislative oversight; d) public oversight; e) oversight over the exercise of the special power".

Oversight is the key to the accomplishment of the national security function. However, there is an oddity in the elucidation of Article 54 that says, "the special power possessed by elements of National Security is the right to wiretap, interrogate, arrest and undertake other legitimate forceful acts, the oversight of which is regulated by law".

Article 20 specifies the elements of national security from the central to regional and local levels, which include a ministry (not yet decided), TNI, Police, the Attorney General's Office, the State Intelligence Agency, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, the National Narcotics Agency, the National Counterterrorism Agency and the relevant non-ministerial government agencies, down to the provincial and district levels (para. 2 and 3), and "various community elements according to their competence" (para. 4). What is so special about the special power if all of the aforementioned agencies possess it?

Meanwhile, Article 33 says: "In keeping and preserving general security and public order in the legal state of 'civil order' and the legal state of 'civil emergency', the head of the district forms a District National Security Coordination Forum that comprises the military chief in the district, the police chief in the district, the head of the District Attorney's Office, the head of the district Disaster Management Agency, and the head of district National Narcotics Board�.

The term "human rights" is only found as one of the listed principles in the General Provisions Article 19, without being expressed as a safeguard of the special power of the National Security element in possession of coercive authority (Article 54).

The elucidation of Article 6 (Dec. 22, 2010) that stated the "protection of the right to life, not to be tortured, freedom of religion, beliefs and conscience to the rights not to be prosecuted by the law retroactively" was deleted.

Articles 20 and 33 affirm the need for coordination. This is important for policy synchronization. Yet, to combine the authority of national security elements or by establishing the National Security Forum without clarifying the legal, security and civil administration areas of operations that involve the TNI, clearly adds to the already grey area of control between national security actors that the law was meant to clarify in the first place.

It could also draw the TNI to intervene in non-defense matters under â??Bakorstanas or the Coordinating Body for National Stabilityâ?, like in the New Order era.

It is not easy to construct the ideal concept of national security. Under authoritarian rules, security is centered on the authority of absolute power-wielders; this causes an absence of human rights protection. UN Rapporteur Leandro Despouyâ??s study (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1997/19) found that these countries used the â??national security doctrineâ? as the ideological and political ground for operating cruel dictatorships with the undue suppression of human rights.

So, will the 2011 version of the bill meet the same fate as the previous? I predict it will not be adopted.

The writer is chairman of the board for the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) and an advisor to the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ).

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