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Indonesia: Emergency Decree to Facilitate Crackdown on Terrorists - 2002-10-16

Indonesia is preparing an emergency decree to give authorities broad powers to crack down on suspected terorists.

Indonesian officials have revealed little about the content of the proposed emergency decree, because it is still being written by the Justice Ministry. The presidential decree would not require approval by Parliament, but legislators can later pass laws to replace or amend it.

The emergency decree would go into effect long before a controversial anti-terrorism bill that has been stuck in debate for weeks in Indonesia's Parliament. Critics of the bill say it gives too much power to police and security forces, who would have free rein to make arrests with little evidence against suspects. Debate of the anti-terror law follows months of pressure on Indonesia by its neighbors to do more to prevent terrorism from taking root. Singapore and Malaysia have strict internal security laws, through which they have arrested dozens of suspected militants and can hold them without trial for years.

The emergency anti-terror decree follows Saturday's deadly bombing of a foreign tourist spot on Indonesia's Bali Island. Jakarta and the Australian government have both said they believe the attack was the work of regional terrorists linked to the al-Qaida network. Southeast Asian powers and the United States have long been suspicious of the militant group Jemaah Islamiah. The group wants to create a pan-Islamic state across Southeast Asia. The group's alleged leader, Indonesian Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, denies having anything to do with terrorism.