Soldiers man an immigration checkpoint in Belu, East Nusa Tenggara, on the Indonesia-Timor Leste border. (Antara Photo/Kornelis Kaha)

Immigration Office Calls for Integrated Border Security To Fight Terror Threats


JUNE 16, 2016

Jakarta. The Indonesian Immigration Office has called for the formation of an integrated unit comprising immigration, customs, police and intelligence officials on Indonesia's border gateways to prevent terror threats.

Responsibility for security on Indonesia's borders is currently being shared between different authorities, unlike the integrated border security systems of neighboring countries such as Singapore.

The city-state formed the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) in 2003—manned by immigration, customs and police officials—which has the power and authority to act quickly against security threats.

The same move has been made by the US and Australia, which respectively formed the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2003 and the Australian Border Force (ABF) in 2015.

"These countries have immigration officials working together with antiterrorism officers, who have the power to detain suspected terrorists entering the countries straight away," Indonesian Immigration director general Ronny F. Sompie said.

"We haven't been able to do the same and this severely weakens our border security," Ronny said.

Around 500 Indonesian citizens have managed to leave the country illegally and sneak into Iraq and Syria to fight with the Islamic State, according to the government's estimation. Around one in five has returned.

"We hope this idea could be incorporated in the new antiterrorism bill," Ronny told a House of Representatives special committee tasked with revising the 2003 antiterrorism law.

The government is currently seeking more power for authorities to move against alleged terrorists under the bill, which was proposed in response to the Jakarta terror attacks earlier in January.

It stipulates tougher provisions, ranging from a broader definition of terrorism to longer detention without trial for terror suspects and the revocation of citizenship for convicted terrorists.