Contemporary law enforcement challenges in Indonesia

Interview with senior police ahead of 85th INTERPOL General Assembly in Bali

In July 2016, Indonesia’s President Widodo gave 51-year old Police General Tito Karnavian command of the world’s fifth largest police force, the Indonesian National Police (INP). One of the new Police Chief’s first tasks in office was to host INTERPOL’s 85th General Assembly in Bali, 7 – 10 November 2016.

“INP is doing its utmost to make the world’s most prestigious international police conference successful, constructive and safe,” commented the new Police Chief during an interview granted to General Secretariat headquarters staff in the run-up to the event.

“My prerogative for the General Assembly this year lies in the INP motto: “Rastra Sewakottama” in the Indonesian language, meaning ‘to serve the people before all else’. I have personally reviewed preparations at the conference venue to make sure my police force is doing everything it can to make this a productive event for the international police leaders who will be gathering here shortly,” he added.

For Tito Karnavian, who was appointed with the task of transforming INP into a modern police force adapted to 21st century challenges, this year’s INTERPOL General Assembly is an important opportunity to define the way forward for Indonesian policing.

“By examining our crime challenges from a global standpoint, and in identifying together the most effective ways of tackling them, as police leaders we gain a better understanding of what our national police agencies need to be focusing on, and how,” he added.

As former Head of Indonesia’s National Counter Terrorism Agency (BPTN), Police General Karnavian will be a panel speaker on the INTERPOL General Assembly’s special counter-terrorism panel.

“Fighting national and regional crime through global policing is a cornerstone of the General Assembly and one which INP intends to use to pave its own way forward. Police leaders from all continents will gather here to review region-specific crime and security concerns through a global lens, focusing on crime areas ranging from human trafficking to cybercrime, terrorism and transnational organized crime, including fisheries crime which is a particular problem for Indonesia,” he said.

“With illegal fishing and associated crimes, including human trafficking, amongst Indonesia’s top contemporary law enforcement challenges, we look forward to meeting police delegations in the sidelines of the General Assembly to flesh out one of the most global yet untouched crime areas there is,” concluded the Police Chief.

Keeping Indonesia’s fishing work-force safe

 By Police Brigadier General Naufal Yahya, Secretary of Indonesia's INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB)


With 80,000 km of coastline - the world’s second longest after Canada - and an archipelago geography of 17,508 islands spread across three time zones, Indonesia is the fourth largest fish-producing country in the world. Its 261 million citizens make up the world’s fourth largest population and one of the largest workforces, which finds most of its employment in the domestic fishing industry.

Indonesia’s developing economy relies heavily on its fishing industry, which is challenged daily by the surge of illegal fishing and associated crimes. Although INP is implementing national and international fisheries legislation, and despite its large fleet of 662 sea patrol vessels, the fact that the archipelagic nation is made up of an abundance of remote island areas and tropical seas makes monitoring the full expanse of Indonesia’s waterways difficult.

Profit seeking in the fisheries sector can create criminal incentives to import illegal immigrants for cheap labour. At the same time, catches and profits are declining due to illegal exploitation of fish stocks, often by the exact same operators.

For over a decade, INP has been monitoring human trafficking with investigations revealing widespread forced labour of trafficked victims on board fishing vessels anchored in remote areas of the Indonesian seas, sometimes for years at a time. The migrant nature of the workers, who have often been deceived into fishing employment, means that their families seldom know where they are.

Lack of training, poor language skills and little enforcement of safety and labour standards make these men vulnerable to danger, ill health, violence and even murder. With crew transfers taking place at sea, the majority of these modern-day slaves remains unseen by authorities despite the violation of basic human rights.

Without corrective enforcement action, the forced labour conditions imposed on fishermen are an almost inevitable progression of abuse, depredation and resource degradation arising from the illegal activities of established criminal groups.

Fighting domestic crime with global action

Trafficking in human beings for the fisheries industry is not a phenomenon limited to Southeast Asia.  It is a global crime, affecting all countries, and requiring a global law enforcement response.  With boats registered in different countries, staffed with men of different nationalities, navigating from continent to continent across the high seas, the world’s largest police organization is well positioned to coordinate the kind of police action required to tackle cases of this kind.

INTERPOL helps countries like Indonesia combat this typically global crime with a wide range of different support services:

  • It helps police forces identify, deter and disrupt transnational fisheries crime through a dedicated taskforce codenamed ‘Project Scale’;
  • It provides member countries with the capabilities and analysis required to identify the organized crime groups behind trafficking in human beings for the fishing industry;
  • At the request of member countries, it circulates international alerts – called notices – for suspects, vessels or victims involved in people trafficking or fisheries crime.  These alerts are circulated to police forces in 190 member countries across the globe;
  • INTERPOL’s Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore deploys forensic response teams in the field to obtain digital evidence from laptops, telephones and other GPS-enabled devices, which helps obtain convictions and build intelligence around criminal networks in cases of people trafficking or illegal fishing and associated crime;
  • As the world’s only truly global police organization, INTERPOL has unique visibility on worldwide cases, permitting it to pull together the pieces of the global trafficking picture and make the connections to drive national investigations.

The way forward

The practice of unauthorized fishing is a risk indicator of associated serious crime, particularly drug smuggling, tax evasion, illegal transfer of fuel at sea, the provision of fraudulent ID documentation, human trafficking and money laundering to camouflage illegally earned profits. 

Healthy business cannot happen in an insecure environment, and each of these crime areas is potentially damaging for Indonesia’s developing economy.  Consequently, just as INTERPOL 2020 is strengthening INTERPOL’s strategic framework to preserve INTERPOL’s strong and respected voice in global security matters, our new Police Chief is pursuing a similar avenue for Indonesia’s national police force. 

Police General Tito Karnavian has pledged to transform INP into a modern police force which truly serves the Indonesian people by targeting 21st century crime challenges.   INTERPOL has a strong role to play in the way forward for INP, providing the outreach required to take investigations beyond national borders to work with police forces in 190 countries across Asia, Europe, Africa, the Americas, the Middle East and the South Pacific. 

Because INTERPOL and INP are solid partners in the fight against regional and international crime, Indonesia is particularly proud to bring the world’s police chiefs together at the heart of the Indonesian nation for INTERPOL’s forthcoming General Assembly in Bali.

Police Brigadier General Naufal Yahya,
Secretary of Indonesia's INTERPOL NCB


Zero-tolerance approach to fisheries crime


In a bid to preserve Indonesia’s dwindling fish resources, in 2014 Indonesia declared a fishing moratorium for foreign vessels, meaning that today it is illegal for foreign boats to fish in Indonesian waters. Foreign vessels caught fishing in its territorial waters are apprehended and subsequently destroyed.

One such vessel was the ‘Viking’, the subject of INTERPOL’s first purple notice focusing on the criminal activities of a sea vessel and published at the request of Norway in 2013. Although 13 countries had been hunting for this notorious Antarctic toothfish poaching vessel, it had repeatedly changed its identity characteristics to avoid detection, blacklisting and associated sanctions.

After a decade-long hunt by police forces worldwide, Indonesia intercepted the ship in its northern territorial waters last February, where it was operating illegally under the Nigerian flag. The captain and crew of 10, from Indonesia, Chile, Argentina, Myanmar and Peru were issued fines for fisheries violations and remain in custody in Indonesia.

“This is a good example of how INTERPOL can help countries apprehend vessels involved in crime, particularly as fisheries crime is a clear risk indicator of associated serious crime,” commented Police Brigadier General Naufal Yahya, Secretary of Indonesia's INTERPOL NCB.

“INTERPOL’s Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore deployed a forensic response team to recover digital evidence from laptops, telephones, navigation equipment and other GPS-enabled devices, enabling INP to build intelligence around the criminal networks and associated vessels,” he added.

  • Police General Tito Karnavian
    Chief, Indonesian National Police


15 Sept 2016: Police General Tito Karnavian is accompanied by Chief of Bali Regional Police, Inspector General Sugeng Priyanto during an inspection of the INTERPOL General Assembly venue in Bali.

Inspector General Sugeng Priyanto is the former Head of INP’s International Relations Division which houses INTERPOL Jakarta, Indonesia’s INTERPOL National Central Bureau which was under his command from 2013 to 2015.

21st century slavery

Last summer INP rescued hundreds of fishermen held captive in cages on Benjina, a remote Indonesian island. Kidnapped, sold or coerced to leave their home countries for jobs abroad, the victims – all male – would be trafficked to the town of Benjina as cheap labour for the illegal fishing industry.  Post-rescue testimonials talk of food and water deprivation, torture, death by beatings and 20-22-hour days in brutal working conditions at sea.  Some victims had been living in Benjina for more than 10 years, the peninsula’s sheer isolation providing no means of escape.

21st century policing

INTERPOL Jakarta played a strong role in coordinating law enforcement’s response to the Benjina case.  With the victims, suspects and vessels originating from a wide range of different countries, only a truly global police organization could provide the kind of support needed to coordinate action at international level.   Using INTERPOL’s secure global police communications network, the Jakarta INTERPOL NCB contacted police forces in the victims’ countries to reconnect them with families and to initiate local investigations.  Neighboring countries sent investigation teams to work with NCB Jakarta in Benjina, interviewing suspects and collecting evidence. Eight suspects were arrested as a result of this regional police cooperation via INTERPOL.  Investigations into the transnational organized crime networks behind the Benjina case are still ongoing.

INTERPOL Jakarta has coordinated 85 nationwide investigations into trafficking in human beings so far this year.   The NCB works closely with Bakamla – or Coast Guard – the national police body mandated to carry out security and safety patrols in Indonesia’s territorial waters as well as formulate national policy on maritime security and prevent criminal activities in Indonesian waters.


INP rescue operation during Benjina case

Notre site utilise des cookies pour assurer un bon fonctionnement technique, recueillir des statistiques et permettre un partage sur les plateformes de réseaux sociaux.

En savoir plus