Jakarta Globe | Insight

Indonesia Steps Up Multilateral Security Cooperation

Jakarta. Indonesia adopted several approaches in 2017 to step up security and tackle emerging threats to peace and stability affecting not only itself, but also the region.

The hostile takeover by Islamic militants of Marawi City in the southern Philippines in May prompted stronger trilateral cooperation between Indonesia, Malaysia and that country, leading to the development of a joint implementation of counterterrorism measures and strategies.

Indonesia initiated joint patrols with its two neighbors in the aftermath of the violence, as part of efforts to stem the movement of militants in the region. Joint maritime patrols commenced in June and air patrols in October.

More than 1,000 people, mostly militants, were killed in the battle for Marawi. The Philippine military suggested on multiple occasions that there were Indonesian fighters among the militants.

Domestic and regional cooperation was also central to a meeting between officials from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand and Brunei in July, when they agreed to synchronize efforts and share information among law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

“We also pushed for cooperation between the six countries and companies engaging in social media, video file sharing and messaging,” Chief Security Minister Wiranto said, adding that the private sector will play an active role in helping the government stop terrorist activities.

The minister said participating countries agreed to conduct a comparative study on existing terrorism-related laws, strengthen cooperation across institutions to prevent terrorism financing and boost partnerships between their respective immigration offices to improve border security and prevent terrorists from traveling between countries.

In May last year, two suicide bombers killed three policemen and injured 10 civilians near a bus station in Kampung Melayu, East Jakarta, in what appears to be a global terrorist attack that the police linked to incidents in Marawi and in Manchester, England.

Following the attack, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo called for the finalization of ongoing revisions of Indonesia’s 2003 Antiterrorism Law, which are still subject to negotiations between the government and the House of Representatives, expected to only be concluded early this year after several delays.

The law, which was ratified after the 2002 Bali bombings, did not include authorization for law enforcement officials to take preventive measures in fighting terrorism.

Citing national security concerns, Indonesia temporarily blocked access to encrypted messaging service Telegram in July. The service was listed as the main platform for spreading radical propaganda and a tool used to plan terrorist attacks in Indonesia.

On the issue of cybercrime, National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian spoke about the risks of hoaxes and provocative content spread on social media. He said hate speech must be curbed in a collaborative effort by governmental institutions and members of the public.

Last year, the National Police established a multimedia unit under its public relations department, a special security directorate under the Bureau of Intelligence and Security (Baintelkam), and a cybercrime directorate under the Criminal Investigation Unit (Bareskrim).

The cybercrime unit is responsible for law enforcement, while Baintelkam’s special security directorate will gather intelligence to prevent cyberthreats, including hate speech. Each of the new units is also responsible for conducting cyberpatrols.

Despite growing concerns in several areas however, the National Police recorded a significant decline in crime last year.

“There was a 23 percent decrease in criminal cases… [We also see] a decrease in conventional crimes, but there was an increase in crime against state assets and incidents of social conflict,” Tito said during a press conference at the National Police headquarters in South Jakarta on Dec. 29.