Prosecuting Pirates: Maritime Piracy and Indonesian Law

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9 Citations (Scopus)


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 on how Indonesia’s judicial system treats the perpetrators by examining the 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 they suggest that Indonesia’s anti-piracy legal regime would be boosted by enacting a Piracy Law.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Pages (from-to)217-232
Number of pages16
JournalAustralian Journal of Asian Law
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2019


  • Maritime security
  • maritime piracy
  • Indonesia
  • Indonesian Law
  • Transnational Organized crime
  • prosecution
  • sentencing


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