Terrorism as Socially Constructed Crime in Indonesia

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In the aftermath of Bali Bombing 2002, which is considered the biggest terrorist attack in Indonesia, the Indonesian government launched the so-called ‘war against terrorism’. Subsequently, the government established and applied laws on terrorism and formed a special counter-terrorism police squad: The Detachment 88. A state body that coordinates counter-terrorism measures is quickly established, the National Anti-Terrorism Agency (BNPT –Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Terorisme). Therefore, terrorism in Indonesia has been considered a ‘big and serious business’ since 2002. It also raises a serious question in defining and judging terror crime. Indeed, Indonesia has the law of terrorism since 2002, yet the definition is not very clear. Even in international forum, there is no single and approved definition of terrorism. For instance, an armed group who attacked civilians in Central Sulawesi was named terrorists by the state. On the other hand, a group of militias who attacked and held hostages in Timika, Papua was labelled as an armed criminal group. In Jakarta, there were some bomb threats during 2015 and 2017. Nevertheless, the law enforcement agencies have never named them as ‘terrorists’, although their actions deserve to be called as ‘lone-wolf terrorism’. This paper aims to identify the social construction of terrorism. Terrorism is a term that is used regularly by news media and politicians. Whether its application is impartial or biased is fundamental to a debate. In a society where, international terrorism monopolizes news media and political discussion, there is no greater need than to analyze the boundaries of the term ‘terrorism’ construction within social processes. One of the serious problems involving terrorism in Indonesia is to define an offense as terrorism. The laws of terrorism are existed. The judgment and conviction to terrorism suspects also have been made in various jurisdictions. Yet, the types of offenses constituted as terrorism are still unclear. Ordinary people, media, opinion makers, and law enforcement officers have socially constructed terrorism and have their own perceptions of terrorism. This condition leads to law uncertainty and, to some extent, it leads to victimization and stigmatization of innocent people because their appearances and social environments have been associated to terrorism. This study employed two approaches: Social construction and guilt by association theories.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPADJADJARAN: Jurnal Ilmu Hukum (Journal of Law)
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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