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Intelligence Bill Deadlock Broken

Sumber: THEJAKARTAGLOBE.COM | Tgl terbit: Selasa, 27 September 2011

Sunday’s suicide bombing at a Solo church has galvanized lawmakers and the government to set their differences aside and agree on long-disputed clauses in a draft bill on intelligence.

Golkar Party legislator Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita, who heads the committee discussing the bill, said on Monday that lawmakers and ministers had agreed on several crucial points.

The bill is set to include provisions on the use of wiretapping, coordination between state agencies overseeing intelligence and the use of detention.

“We’re optimistic that the bill will be finished before this current sitting period ends, or within a few weeks,” Agus said after a hearing with the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) and the State Intelligence Agency (BIN).

He added that while all parties had agreed to give the intelligence agency the authority to conduct wiretapping, the power would be strictly regulated.

The bill spells out that wiretapping could be conducted for six months at most, would require a court order and would be limited to intelligence purposes.

“The main points are that the authority to wiretap can only be used for early detection and early warning, not for investigation or legal enforcement,” Agus said.

Intelligence officials would not be given the authority to arrest or detain suspects, he said.

The draft has been debated since 2004 but differences among lawmakers, public officials and intelligence bodies have repeatedly resulted in deadlock.

On Sunday, just hours after the Solo church explosion, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono expressed a hope that the intelligence bill could be passed soon so that the intelligence agency and law enforcers could use it to combat terrorism.

Adrianus Meliala, a terrorism expert from the University of Indonesia, said the BIN needed more resources to improve its early detection capability, but not more power.

Wan Usman, a defense lecturer at the same university, said an emphasis on training intelligence officers properly was paramount “so they can analyze data on potential activities that could harm the nation and engage in preventative action.”
International Crisis Group analyst Sidney Jones said giving the intelligence agency more power was not an appropriate solution.

“I think it’s too simplistic to see the problem of terrorism as one of inadequate law,” Jones said.

She also cautioned against copying foreign laws in combatting terrorism, including the Internal Security Acts of Singapore and Malaysia.

“That’s not the main reason why they’ve been successful against terrorism,” she said. What Indonesia needs, Jones continued, is “an overall strategy for combating terrorism, not just an intelligence law.”

Kontras coordinator Haris Azhar said rushing the draft bill opened a door for the government to gag the press and civilian activists, especially since state secrets were not clearly defined.

The law sets out strict penalties for anyone found to be disclosing intelligence information.

Meanwhile, in Semarang, dozens of students with the local chapter of the Freedom Student Movement rallied to protest the rushing of the draft law.

“It creates an opportunity to give birth to a repressive regime that only spies on its own people,” Ari Firmansyah, who led the protest, told state news agency Antara.



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