Jakarta (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - Indonesia's House of Representatives is currently deliberating a bill aimed at cutting off funding for terrorists and imposing severe penalties on donors to terrorism.
The special House committee deliberating the bill said that together with Anti-Terrorism Law No. 5/2006 and Law No. 25/2003 on money laundering, it would significantly weaken terror networks operating in the country.
"We do have laws on terrorism and money laundering, but none of them specifically regulate details on mechanisms to freeze accounts allegedly used to fund terror activities," said committee chairman Adang Daradjatun, a Prosperous Justice Party politician and former deputy chief of the National Police.
Daradjatun said the bill would have comprehensive principles on criminalising the act of financing terrorism, from freezing accounts allegedly used to support terrorism to legalising mutual legal assistance between Indonesia and other countries in its anti-terror efforts.
Daradjatun said the House had won support from foreign countries in drafting the bill as it derived from the 1999 International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.
"The main principle in the fight against terrorism is to cut the financial support because it will hamper terrorists in their operations. And criminalising their financial backers is necessary because they are also part of the crime," he said.
Daradjatun said that the special committee was still working on the details of the bill, including which institutions would be given the authority to seize funds from suspicious bank accounts.
Deliberation of the bill is expected to be wrapped up by the end of the year.
The bill on prevention and eradication of terrorism finance places the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre as the leading institution responsible for freezing bank accounts and confiscating assets related to terrorism and terrorist organisations, in cooperation with law enforcement agencies and financial service providers.
Article 27 of the bill, for instance, gives the centre the authority to directly block bank accounts and confiscate all assets belonging to individuals or corporations that are allegedly terrorists or linked to terrorism at the request of the National Police.
The bill has yet to include the National Counterterrorism Agency as a law enforcement agency.
An avenue is provided for individuals or companies accused of being linked to terrorism to clear their names when they are declared not guilty by a court.
Articles 28, 29, 30 and 31 list details for allowing individuals or companies to reopen their bank accounts by filing a request with the National Police while maintaining their innocence. The National Police then send a written request to the Central Jakarta District Court to clear the names of the individuals or companies.
Article 31 gives the authority to the Central Jakarta District Court to remove the names from a list of terrorist suspects if proven not guilty.
However, any individual proven to have provided or collected funds wilfully, directly or indirectly with the intention that the funds should be used to carry out terrorist acts will face a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a 1 billion rupiah (US$107,000) fine as stipulated in Article 4.
Meanwhile, Article 8 states that a company that commits such a violation will face a maximum penalty of 100 million rupiah and is at risk of losing its business license and assets.
Lawmaker Eva Kusuma Sundari of the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle said the committee had been advised to carefully address issues concerning suspicious accounts.
"We have been told to not arbitrarily freeze suspicious accounts because they might be the only source of income for the whole family of a suspect. Arbitrarily cutting off access to the money would nurture hatred for the government."
She said such a measure could result in empathy for the suspect on the part of the family members, who may then also join a terrorist group.