Australia, ASEAN vow to combat Daesh

ASEAN leaders wave as they stand together during the Leaders Welcome and Family Photo at the one-off summit of 10-member ASEAN in Sydney, Australia, on Saturday. (Reuters)
Updated 19 March 2018
0

Australia, ASEAN vow to combat Daesh

JAKARTA: The leaders of ASEAN countries and Australia reiterated on Sunday their commitment to combat borderless violent extremism and to work more closely to prevent the flow of foreign terrorist fighters into the region.
The leaders were concluding the ASEAN-Australia special summit, held for the first time in Sydney over the weekend.
In a joint statement dubbed the “Sydney Declaration” issued at the end of the special summit, the 11 leaders said they “unequivocally condemn in the strongest terms terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.”
They also said they would enhance regional cooperation to address the root cause of conditions that contribute to the growth and spread of violent extremism and radicalization.
To cement their commitment, the 10 ASEAN member states and Australia agreed on Saturday to a joint counterterrorism pact which marks a deepened and expanded cooperation. The memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed by the bloc’s Secretary General, Lim Jock Hoi, and Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop, and witnessed by the 10 ASEAN and Australian leaders at the end of the ASEAN-Australia counterterrorism conference.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said in his speech at the forum that he appreciated Australia’s active cooperation with ASEAN in combating terrorism, citing Australia’s role in co-hosting with Indonesia in July the sub-regional counterterrorism forum involving Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, Singapore and New Zealand to address borderless terrorism and the adverse impact of then-besieged Marawi in the southern Philippines.
According to a statement from the presidential palace press bureau, Widodo also welcomed the MoU signing, saying: “Based on my observation, the MoU underscores a balance between hard and soft approaches” in fighting violent extremism.
Chief of Indonesia’s counterterrorism agency, Commissioner Gen. Suhardi Alius, said Indonesia shared at the forum its experience in counterterrorism efforts such as amending the anti-terrorism law to include provisions that would criminalize Indonesian citizens’ involvement in plotting, training and traveling for terror-related purposes.
In a press release, Alius said he also shared the agency’s recent efforts to reconcile 124 former convicts with 51 survivors and family members of those who died in terror attacks in the country.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Australia sees ASEAN as an essential security partner and called for unity in the face of terror, which he said was carried out by a small minority of people who defame and blaspheme against Islam.
“They have sought to sow discord by their perverted and nihilistic interpretation of Islam, to provoke hatred between Sunni and Shia Muslims and to drive a wedge between Muslims and non-Muslims,” Turnbull said, according to a transcript.
“Our best allies in the war against this scourge are the vast majority of Muslims — around the world, around the region, here in Australia — and their leaders,” he added, mentioning Widodo, Malaysian PM Najib Razak and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, all of whom are leaders of Muslim-majority ASEAN nations.
Turnbull also highlighted the possible threats of Asian-origin Daesh fighters who are returning to the region “battle-hardened and trained.”
“It is vital for Australia and our ASEAN partners to collaborate across borders to ensure that our counterterrorism legal frameworks are robust enough to provide effective investigation, prosecution and punishment, while being flexible enough to adapt to the changing and uncertain security environment,” Turnbull said.
The counterterrorism pact includes cooperation to develop and implement counterterrorism legislation, an ASEAN-Australia workshop on using electronic evidence in terrorism and transnational crime-related investigations and prosecutions, and exchange programs for financial intelligence analysts.
Australia and the ASEAN countries will also establish regional dialogues and forums with law enforcement partners, aimed at combating the threat of Daesh-affiliated terrorists. Australia will provide a capacity-building program for ASEAN law enforcement partners on technology-enabled crime to assist in detecting and disrupting terrorist activity.


Philippine president wants to end anti-drug war in three years

Updated 33 min 14 sec ago
0

Philippine president wants to end anti-drug war in three years

  • Philippines being investigated for extrajudicial killings
  • Anti-drug campaign signature policy of president

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday he wanted to finish his war on drugs in three years, defying an international probe into his controversial and deadly campaign to rid the country of narcotics.
Duterte, who came to power in 2016, has made a ‘war on drugs’ the hallmark of his administration. 
But it has been reported that 20,000 people have been killed in what rights groups call a wave of “state-sanctioned violence.”
The firebrand president remains unfazed by the condemnation, and the cases filed against him by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over his crackdown.
He insisted he would assume full responsibility for any consequences due to his decision to enforce the law, telling a military audience his goals.
“I’d like to finish this war, both (with the) Abu Sayyaf (a militant group) and also the communists, and the drug problem in about three years … we'd be able (to) ... reduce the activities of the illegal trade and fighting to the barest minimum.
“I’m not saying I am the only one capable (of achieving these goals) ... I assume full responsibility for all that would happen as a consequence of enforcing the law — whether against the criminals, the drug traffickers or the rebels who’d want to destroy government.”
Earlier this month, the Philippines withdrew from the ICC, citing the global body's interference in how the country was run as the reason.
On Tuesday, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that investigations into alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines would continue despite its exit.
But the government has said it will not cooperate with the ICC, and has even warned its personnel about entering the country for the investigation.
There are Filipinos who support Duterte’s campaign, however, and believe it works. Among them is former policeman Eric Advincula.
He said there had been an improvement in the situation since Duterte came to power. 
“For one, the peace and order situation has improved, like for example in villages near our place where there used to be rampant drug peddling,” he told Arab News. 
“The price of illegal drugs is now higher, an indication that the supply also went down. Also, it was easy to catch drug peddlers before because they were doing their trade openly. But now they are more careful, you can't easily locate them.”
Official data from the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in February indicated that 5,176 ‘drug personalities’ were killed in the anti-drugs war between July 1, 2016 to Jan. 31, 2019.
More than 170,000 drug suspects have been arrested during a total of 119,841 anti-narcotics operations in the last two and a half years.