The Maritime Dimension of Transnational Organised Crime

The proposed research builds on the collaboration between the Centre for Trust Peace and Social Relations (CTPSR) of Coventry University (UK) and the International Organization for Migration Indonesia (IOM). This collaboration started in 2014 with a specific focus on the interrelation between maritime and human security issues in Indonesia. In 2015, the partners established a consortium focused on Indonesian maritime security. This consortium brings together key stakeholders from government, academia and the private sector and acts as an interface to conduct joint research.

Together with leaders from 6 different coastal communities and staff-members from 6 different governmental agencies, the investigators (Dr Math Noortmann and Dr Ioannis Chapsos  Coventry University; Dr. Juliette Koning, Oxford Brookes University; and Dr Peter Munro, International Organization for Migration – Indonesia) investigate the many challenges related to transnational maritime organised crimes.

The research will investigate stakeholder perceptions: who are considered to be the main actors in the maritime domain; which particular ‘crimes’ are being experienced and with what effect; what law enforcement tools and recourses are being used and with what success; what specific threats are articulated by coastal communities; how do the communities and law enforcers appreciate each other; and what do these stakeholders see as ways forward.

The research will provide insights into these matters on the basis of focus group discussions with staff members of law enforcement agencies (such as the Maritime Security Agency, the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, the National Search and Rescue Agency, the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, the Directorate General of Immigration and the Indonesian National Police) as well as with coastal community leaders and members. The selected coastal communities, of which a number are participants in IOM/Indonesia activities, include maritime crime prone locations in North Sumatra, South Java, Flores, Sulawesi, Maluku, and East Nusa Tenggara.

The focus group sessions all include the making of collages, a visual tool through which the research participants are invited to express their experiences by using photos, newspaper headings, magazine clippings and other printed materials. These collages are intended to represent the participants’ unique understanding of the maritime problems and the position of the various actors involved. These images will be used first of all to establish the direction of the research as well as to elicit discussions beyond standard interview sessions and support the interpretation of the legal and policy documents. This research design is considered best suited to understand the background of transnational organised crime, maritime security and law enforcement through the eyes of the key stakeholders involved.