Indonesia to Form Agency to Oversee Arms Trade
Febriamy Hutapea & Markus Junianto Sihaloho
The Ministry of Defense announced on Tuesday that it was tightening the supervision of the export and import of military weapons after the recent seizure of an arms shipment by Philippine authorities
Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Slamet Hariyanto said that the government was planning to establish a new agency that would be tasked with supervising the process of exporting and importing weapons.
The process is currently supervised by the military’s intelligence agency along with the Ministry of Defense, he said.
“This would likely change with the creation of a new body, which would include other government officials from the Coordinating Ministry of Political, Legal and Security Affairs and the police,” Slamet said.
“We are now facing a serious situation [in arms trading], so I think the new body will be realized soon,” he said.
Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono, talking separately to journalists, said the body would be managed by Coordinating Minister of Social, Legal and Security Affairs Widodo AS.
A Panama-registered vessel carrying Indonesian manufactured arms, the Captain Ufuk, was detained nearly two weeks ago outside Manila by the country’s custom authorities.
Fernandino Tuason, the chief of the Philippine Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service, said the agency was investigating whether the arms were meant for possible political or terrorist activities, according to the Philippine Star.
A spokesman for PT Pindad, the state arms producer that manufactured the seized arms, said earlier that the shipment had been cleared out of Jakarta’s Tanjung Priok Port.
Ten of the seized pistols had been purchased by a shooting club in the Philippines, he said.
The 100 rifles in the shipment were bound for the Republic of Mali’s Ministry of Internal Security and Civil Protection, but under the contract, Pindad was only assigned to deliver them to the Captain Ufuk.
RWB Inc., a Philippine firm, was responsible for handling the shipment upon arrival there.
Adik Avianto Sudarsono, the director of Pindad, said on Monday that RWB had attached an end-user certificate as an approval from the Philippine and Mali governments, as required in any arms transaction.
First Adm. Sudi Haryono, a senior official at the Ministry of Defense, said they had received the end-user certificate, part of the documents needed by the ministry before approving any arms exports.
In the certificate, a country importing the weapons declares who will use the arms and states they will not be given to any third parties, he said.
“We believe that the certificate is original,” Sudi said.
Slamet said that investigating any documents required for an arms deal, including the end-user certificate, would be a top priority for the new supervisory body.
He also acknowledged that the Defense Ministry did not verify the authenticity of the end-user certificate for the Philippine arms deal.
“We must be polite and trust that the certificate is authentic. But maybe this must be changed in the future by rechecking it,” he said.
Adik Avianto said the government could ban the Philippines or RWB from importing any weapons from Indonesia if they were found violating international rules on arms trading.