Indonesia: Newly amended anti-terror law threatens to undermine human rights

Reacting to the decision of the House of Representatives on Friday to pass into law the revision of the anti-terrorism bill, Amnesty International Indonesia executive director Usman Hamid said:
“The newly-passed law contains a number of draconian articles that threaten to undermine human rights in Indonesia. The law erodes safeguards against arbitrary detention and against torture and other ill-treatment, as well as expanding the scope of the application of the death penalty. Plans to deploy the military in counter-terrorism operations are also deeply concerning.
“The vagueness of some of the law’s wording could be used by authorities to restrict freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly or misused to label peaceful political activities as terrorism. This lack of clarity violates the requirement under international human rights law that  criminal law must be formulated with enough precision for people to understand what conduct is prohibited.
“To protect the right to a fair trial and safeguard against torture and other ill-treatment, authorities must ensure that detainees are not restricted in their access to lawyers and that regular contact with family members or a relevant third party is guaranteed. Authorities must also ensure that the implementation of the law is in line with Indonesia’s obligations regarding the absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
The government proposed amendments to the anti-terror law in January 2016 in the wake of a terror attack in Jakarta which killed eight people. The amendment process at the parliament was in limbo for around two years until May 2018. However, the process was fast-tracked in the past two weeks following a series of bomb blasts and attacks against police officers and people attending services in several Christian churches in the provinces of West Java, East Java and Riau, that killed at least 39 men, women and children and injured around 50 others between May 8 and May 16, and completed this morning.
The Anti-Terrorism Law now grants police powers to hold suspects for up to 221 days without being brought to court – a blatant violation of the right of anyone arrested on a criminal charge to be brought promptly before a judge and be tried within a reasonable time or be released
Amnesty International Indonesia has written an open letter to parliament outlining its concerns about the new law.