Prosecuting Pirates: Maritime Piracy and Indonesian Law
16 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2019
Date Written: June 3, 2019
Acts of maritime piracy continue to occur in Southeast Asia. These attacks represent a continuing threat to sea-based trade in a region which is vitally important to global shipping. While piracy is defined under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) this convention does not set out a legal regime for prosecuting pirates, nor does it give guidance on sentencing, or even require states to enact a piracy law. This means that it is the prosecuting state’s right and responsibility to determine the laws and sentences that apply in cases of piracy brought before its courts. Indonesia does not have an Anti-Piracy Law, and as a result, pirates prosecuted in Indonesian courts are charged under specific sections of the Criminal Code instead. This state-by-state approach has led to wide discrepancies in the sentences handed down to pirates in the region. This article takes account of international law and domestic Indonesian legislation as it relates to piracy. It gives detailed attention to Indonesia’s ‘anti-piracy’ provisions, and provides a unique, new insight into how Indonesia’s judicial system treats the perpetrators by examining court documents in a number of separate piracy cases. The authors conclude that sentences imposed by Indonesian courts are overly lenient compared with those from neighbouring countries, such as for example Malaysia and Singapore, and suggest that Indonesia’s anti-piracy legal regime would be boosted by enacting a Piracy Law.
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