Indonesia should bring captured pirates to justice, IMB says

  • 22 October 2001

ICC's International Maritime Bureau (IMB) is pressing for the prosecution of 17 pirates in the custody of the Indonesian police.

The pirates were captured following the hijacking of two ships. One vessel was recovered by the Philippine coastguard and the other by the Indonesian navy with the help of IMB.

MV Inabukwa, an Indonesian flagship carrying cargo worth over US$ 2 million, was recovered in the Philippines in March this year and the seven pirates found onboard were arrested and sent back to Indonesia.

Ten other men are being held in association with the hijacking of the MT Selayang in June. The hunt for the Selayang was aided by the ShipLoc tracking device on board which enabled IMB to pass precise positions of the vessel to Indonesian naval and air units from the moment she was hijacked.

IMB Director Pottengal Mukudan said “The Indonesian navy expended a lot of resources to orchestrate the seizure of the Selayang, and the Indonesian police should be congratulated for getting the Inabukwa pirates back to Indonesia.

“But now they s hould build on these results, and prosecute the pirates.”

IMB is pushing for Indonesia to bring the captured pirates to justice. They say the body of evidence is overwhelming and that if found guilty, the pirates should face the full penalty of the law.

The last time pirates were prosecuted by Indonesia, the gang leader was given a seven year prison sentence which was subsequently reduced to four years. The shipping community felt that this was an extremely low punishment for someone said to have masterminded the hijacking of a number of vessels in South East Asia.

“If the Indonesian police doesn’t take these recent cases through to prosecution, all the efforts in capturing the pirates would have been futile,” said Captain Mukundan.

“But if they do prosecute, it will not only give a clear warning to pirates that they will not be tolerated, but it will also show the international shipping industry that efforts are being made by Indonesia to ensure that their waters are safe for ships and seamen.”

Statistics published last week in IMB’s quarterly Piracy Report show a worrying rise in hijackings on the world’s seas. Whereas only eight hijackings were reported in 2000, fifteen have been reported already this year, ten of which were in Indonesia and Malaysia.

“These figures just show there’s all the more urgency for Indonesia to act,” said Mukundan.

An international convention already exists to enable countries to take tough action against criminals at sea.

Adopted by the International Maritime Organisation in 1988, the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation obliges contracting governments either to prosecute alleged offenders under their own laws or to extradite them to the flag state.

Article 10 of the Rome Convention empowers law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute where the criminal act has occurred in the waters of another country. According to Mukundan, “this is a vital element in dealing with the hijacking of ships”.

But Indonesia and Malaysia have not ratified this convention. IMB says this can only encourage piracy in the region.

IMB is part of Commercial Crime Services, a division of the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce. It runs a Piracy Centre in Kuala Lumpur and posts weekly world piracy status reports on this website.