President Joko Widodo at a Press Conference in State Place. Photo: Privacy

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – A day after the first round of the 2019 Presidential Election debate on Thursday (01/17), the public was shocked by the discourse about release of the convicted terrorist kingpin Abu Bakar Ba’asyir.

In fact, at that night’s debate the two partners clashed with the strategy to eradicate terrorism, which is one of the main themes of the debate, in addition to legal, human rights, and corruption issues. Both have promised, if elected, to eradicate terrorist networks to its roots.

However, a fact was confronted in front of the eyes of President Joko Widodo. Through his personal attorney, Yuzril Izha Mahendra, Widodo was offered to approve the plan to release Ba’asyir who had been imprisoned in approximately two-thirds of his 15 years in prison.

Ba’asyir was imprisoned for being involved in a terrorism project in Aceh, where he was declared an actor supplying military assistance and funds. Likewise, before, in the 2002 Bali bombing, Ba’asyir was also involved and had been sentenced for two years.

However, Ba’asyir himself has been undisguised to rejecting the recognition of the state’s ideology. Whereas he was firm in his stance, that never involves acts of terrorism, especially as planners and funders in military training.

Then, when in December 2018 asked to be released on parole by declaring loyalty to the Pancasila and Indonesian state, Ba’asyir still refused.

The important question here is whether the government needs to release and be merciful to convicts who blatantly anti-Pancasila gets the freedom.

Meanwhile, there are still many convicts there, who are loyal to the state, but are criminalized because they are victims of politics, business and corrupt law enforcement.

Even has issued the an official statement to conduct a more in-depth and comprehensive study amid speculation, but the government claimed that, process of the Ba’asyir liberation still awaiting the review and inputs from all parties. It means that the President who has approved the release of Ba’asyir was pulled back.

The Palace confirmed that the release was based on humanitarian reasons, in which case the value system could surpass positive law. However, this is too political and it seems that the government does not really understand legal procedures.

The questions, is it possible of law enforcement efforts, while leaders themselves do not take policies based on legal formalities.

On one side, the decision to release the terrorist leader could backfire and blunder for Widodo’s government, which was intending to purge terrorists and radical groups as shown when dissolving the Hizb ut-Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), an organization that contradicted the ideology of Pancasila and Indonesian state.

According to Sidney Jones, terrorist observer, Widodo’s decision to release Ba’asyir is misguided, legally questionable, and politically inept. Because this gives freedom to jihadists even without having swear allegiance to the Pancasila, state ideology, and promise loyalty to the Indonesian state.

It also does not signal any reduction in Indonesia’s counter-terrorism efforts post bombing Bali in 2002. Detachment 88, which leads that effort, was as startled by the decision as everyone else and some of its officers are deeply unhappy about the release of a man widely regarded as a leading ideologue of violent extremism in Indonesia.

Suggested, that Ba’asyir moved to house-arrest if he was too infirm to stay in prison. He could have been under constant police-guard, with restrictions on speech and movement. By this, the authority will have their hands full trying to monitor him.

The legal grounds of the president’s decision are murky. It is clearly not a pardon, because Ba’asyir never requested a pardon. It is also not an amnesty.

This decision would seem to violate Regulation 99 of 2012 from the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, which makes the early release for certain categories of offenders, including convicted terrorists, contingent on their willingness to sign a written loyalty-oath to the Indonesian state.

Ba’asyir’s lawyers have argued that because this is a regulation and not a law, it can be overridden by a presidential decision to intervene on humanitarian grounds. But why should a requirement of loyalty to the Indonesian state be waived for humanitarian reasons.

Apart from Ba’asyir chaotic, the President also recently signed Presidential Regulation No. 1 of 2019 concerning the National Disaster Management Agency promulgated by the Minister of Law and Human Rights Yasonna H. Laoly on January 8, 2019, substituting Presidential Regulation Number 8 of 2008.

Through this new regulation, the Head of Agency is now a ministerial level and can be held by civil servants, active Army or National Police (Article 63). With a ministerial level position, the Head is appointed or dismissed by the President.

This regulation is good for accommodating Indonesian disaster conditions, but tendencies shows the government’s stuttering in issuing legislation and gives the impression that the President is acting arbitrarily against the rule of law.

Whereas, for the legality, legal products must be produced in a deep and comprehensive framework and aggregated through a rational communication forum with all parties, so not procedurally stuttering.

In Ba’asyir case, we appreciate to the Widodo’s strategy to suspend the liberation of terrorist kingpin. In addition hear public voices, President also knows his positioning in this case, that he was being trapped by a close person himself. Moreover, the date is ahead the election, and anything is politics.

Written by Daniel Deha, Email: