Increasing Cases of Piracy in Indonesian Ports and Waters

Despite a global drop in piracy incidents in the first half of 2013, Indonesia has experienced a 50 percent surge in pirate attacks to 43 incidents in the same period. Total worldwide pirate attacks in Semester I-2013 fell to 138 cases (from 177). The location where most incidents take place in Indonesia are the waters around the Riau province, particularly around the ports in Dumai and Belawan. “Within Southeast Asia, most of the attacks occur on Indonesian anchorages [not when ships are sailing]” according to the International Maritime Bureau.

The piracy incidents in Indonesia are considered as less alarming compared to incidents in other regions because it usually does not involve the taking of hostages but mainly constitute low level thefts. In the first half of 2013, seven people were taken hostage in Indonesia. This figure is lower compared to Malaysia (16), Nigeria (15), Ivory Coast (31) and Somalia (20).

Nonetheless, as about half of global piracy incidents take place in Indonesia and Somalia, it is important for Indonesian authorities (the National Police and the Navy) to improve law enforcement on Indonesian waters. Due to the large amount of Indonesian islands and coastal mangrove forests pirates have relatively good hiding places.

A couple of years ago, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore launched a campaign that aimed at curtailing piracy in the Malacca Strait through cooperation between navies. Results cannot be labeled a success yet, although the international shipping lanes for international trade are increasingly safe. As a result, however, pirates have shifted to nearby island groups that form easy hiding places.


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