Subject: TNI role in terror investigations not necessary, say NGOs

TNI role not yet necessary, say NGOs

The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Sat, 08/08/2009 1:28 PM | National

The president's call for the Indonesian military (TNI) to eradicate acts of terrorism in the country has raised concern over the possibility of overlapping authority between the TNI and the police.

Coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Usman Hamid, said Friday that without proper regulations and clear instructions, the military's involvement could turn ugly.

"We don't want the military to spy on anyone they deem suspicious, it would be like the old times," he told The Jakarta Post.

Usman was speaking on the sidelines of a press conference about the TNI's role in fighting terrorism held by the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial).

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono previously instructed the military, regional heads and intelligence bodies to take part in the effort to eradicate terrorism.

However, Usman told the conference the military's role was to focus on defense and leave security tasks to the National Police.

He acknowledged that the 2004 law on the TNI gave authority to the military to perform military operations other than war, but maintained that, "the TNI's involvement is not yet necessary because the National Police has not declared they are overwhelmed in their measures to combat terrorism".

"The police have not even completed their investigation of the July hotel bombings," he said, referring to the bombings of the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta.

"However, should the TNI be needed in the future, the President must first clarify the authority and duties of the TNI and those of the police."

Batara Ibnu Reza from Imparsial told the conference the military's involvement in eradicating terrorism was actually limited, proportional, time-constrained and only to be used in certain conditions, as stipulated by law.

"They can only act on the request of the police," he said.

Usman argued that the military and the police had different approaches to handling terrorism suspects.

"TNI personnel are allowed to detain anyone they find suspicious without a warrant or even informing the person's family; the police can't do that," he said.

He also said that terrorism was yet to be an imminent threat.

"There has only been a possible threat. The TNI should only engage in counterterrorism measures if lives are in grave danger," he said.

Usman said the government must instead resort to improving police intelligence units and the 88th Anti-Terror Special Detachment to support the police in its investigation of the twin bombings.

Meanwhile, Amiruddin from Policy Research and Advocacy (Elsam), agreed with Usman, saying that terrorism would not be overcome by showing off panzers and artillery.

"Terrorists are hiding in remote villages, how do you expect to find them with panzers and artillery?" he asked.

Usman said that although there had been concern over the military lacking duties, "giving them projects like this *combating terrorism* is not the solution".

"To address that problem, the government must increase the funding of the TNI and establish the National Security Council, which will have the authority to formulate the country's strategic plans on defense in the long term," he said. (adh)

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