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After the inauguration of the TNI Commander General Andika Perkasa and the Army Chief of Staff (KSAD) General Dudung Abdurrahman, a number of policies and/or policy discourses that contradicted the TNI reform agenda began to emerge to the public. This issue is an irony, because instead of carrying out a number of internal improvements and programs related to national defense, what has happened is actually the agendas that trigger the backward path of TNI reform.

The civil society coalition for security sector reform noted two policies and/or policy discourses that were contradictory to the TNI reform agenda at the beginning of the leadership of the new Commander and Staff Chief (KSAD).

First, the emergence of the Telegram Letter (ST) Number ST/1221/2021 dated November 5, 2021 which was signed by the Chief of General Staff (Kasum) of the TNI Lt. Gen. Eko Margiyono on behalf of the TNI Commander. The content in this ST is about the legal process against members of the TNI. One of them stated that the summons of TNI soldiers in the legal process must be approved by the commander or unit head.

Second, Army Chief of Staff General Dudung Abdurachman's statement stated, “I said, if there is information, I will apply it as in the days of Mr. Soeharto. The Babinsa must know, even if the needle falls, he must know” and “So if there is an organization that tries to disturb unity and integrity, don't discuss too much, don't think too much but do it”. The statement relates to the Army Chief of Staff's order asking all soldiers to be sensitive to information regarding the development of extreme right and left groups that lead to acts of radicalism.

Regarding the two issues above, we look at:

  1. The issuance of The Commander's Telegram was not only problematic but further demonstrated the dominance of the military over the state. Various records show the involvement/expansion of the role of the TNI in the civilian sphere, for example; the formation of the Junior Attorney General for Military Crimes (Jampidmil) at the Attorney General's Office led by an active military, the placement of an active TNI as special staff at the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, expansion of the TNI's role in law enforcement of criminal acts of terrorism in the country and the implementation of a military justice system for civilians in the Law on Resource Management National Defense for the State (UU PSDN). At this point, the ST Panglima which regulates the process of summoning TNI members must go through the approval of his superiors, not only regulating the internal members of the TNI, but it also requires law enforcement institutions outside the TNI to submit and obey the telegram.
  2. The issuance of the ST further distanced us from the hopes/agenda of the revision of Law 31 of 1997 concerning Military Courts. This ST actually reinforces that law enforcement against military soldiers is in a different domain from civilians, and still leaves fundamental problems in terms of accountability and transparency in every law enforcement process. In fact, TAP MPR No. VII of 2000 has ordered members of the TNI to submit to the general justice system when committing general crimes.
  3. The Commander's Telegram also increasingly shows closure and protection for TNI members who commit crimes (impunity). In the midst of the stagnation of the military justice reform, the TNI institution continued this closure by providing a number of "obstacles". This is because this telegram adds a mechanism for checking/summoning a person, in this case a soldier, to first ask for permission and with the approval of the commander or unit head.
  4. Summons of soldiers who must ask for permission from the commander is a form of defiance of the Criminal Procedure Code (KUHAP), in the Criminal Procedure Code it is explicitly regulated that the summons is only addressed to parties concerned with cases of alleged criminal acts and not superiors from legal subjects who are summoned, so that if the summons is sent or must obtain permission from the Commander, the summons becomes formally invalid or invalid. This actually reflects the lack of commitment in efforts to overcome/prevent impunity for TNI soldiers and can hinder the legal process carried out by the Police, as well as the manifestation of violations of the principle of equality before the law;
  5. The involvement of the TNI AD in overcoming radicalism is a question mark regarding its legal basis. This is because radicalism is not explicitly included in the 14 categories of Military Operations Other than War (OMSP) as regulated in Law No. 34 of 2004 concerning the TNI in Article 7 paragraph (2) letter b. This involvement also has the potential to give birth to the wrong approach, because the involvement of the TNI with its approach model has the potential to lead to human rights violations. The security approach opens up space for apparatus' repression, because it will prioritize stability over dialogical efforts. Efforts to overcome radicalism, including intolerance, should remain the work domain of institutions such as the Religious Harmony Forum (FKUB), the Ministry of Religion, the Pancasila Ideology Development Agency (BPIP), and the police if they are related to criminal acts.

Jakarta, November 24th, 2021

Civil Society Coalition for Security Sector Reform
Imparsial, PBHI Nasional, Setara Institute, Centra Initiative, ELSAM, LBH Pers, ICW, LBHM, LBH Jakarta, KontraS, ICJR, PILNET Indonesia, HRWG, Walhi Eknas, Amnesty Internasional Indonesia, Public Virtue

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