RI Parliament approves longstanding extradition, defence agreements with S’pore

Indonesia's Law and Human Rights Minister said the cooperation "will make it easier for law enforcement to solve cases in which the perpetrators are in Singapore”.

Arlina Arshad

Arlina Arshad

The Straits Times


PM Lee Hsien Loong (right) and Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the Leaders' Retreat in Bintan, Indonesia, on Jan 25, 2022. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

December 16, 2022

JAKARTA – Indonesia’s Parliament on Thursday ratified an agreement for the extradition of fugitives with Singapore, the last of three agreements on outstanding bilateral issues between the two countries.

Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly told the House of Representatives (DPR) that the agreement between Indonesia and Singapore will provide “legal certainty” for the two nations in carrying out extradition of fugitives.

“This extradition cooperation with Singapore will make it easier for law enforcement officials to solve criminal cases in which the perpetrators are in Singapore,” he added.

The DPR had ratified the Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) earlier on Dec 6, which will allow the Singapore Armed Forces to train and take part in exercises in Indonesia, with full respect for Indonesia’s sovereignty over its territory.

Both neighbours had concluded and signed the two agreements in April 2007, witnessed by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and then Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and agreed to implement them simultaneously. However, they were not ratified by Indonesia then.

On Jan 25, Mr Lee and President Joko Widodo reaffirmed their commitment to the two agreements – as well as a third one, the Flight Information Region (FIR) agreement – at the Singapore-Indonesia Leaders’ Retreat in Bintan.

“These agreements are a matter of necessity for Indonesia,” Mr Arsul Sani, a member of House Commission III overseeing law and legislation, human rights and security affairs, told The Straits Times.

“On the extradition treaty, Indonesia has similar agreements with other Asean countries, so it is not anything special. We hope we will be able to bring back Indonesians implicated in crimes, particularly corruption. And likewise, Singaporean suspects hiding in Indonesia can also be extradited,” Mr Arsul said.

On Indonesia’s request, the retrospective application to extradite fugitives for crimes was raised from 15 years in the 2007 agreement to 18 years in the current deal. Mr Arsul said Indonesia will use other multilateral treaties it is party to in tackling crimes dating even further back.

“On defence cooperation, we believe it will benefit both Singapore and Indonesia. More importantly, we hope that the training is carried out in line with the agreement, and not lead to other concessions that could raise issues of sovereignty,” he added.

Mr Arsul said Mr Widodo will need to sign off on these “legally binding agreements”.

Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto, who was present at the plenary session last Tuesday, said: “With the approval of this Bill to become law by the Indonesian Parliament, a legal umbrella for defence cooperation between the Republic of Indonesia and the Republic of Singapore is formed.”

A Defence Ministry statement also said that the ratification of the defence agreement was “expected to improve and strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries”.

While the Parliament approved the extradition treaty and defence cooperation, the FIR agreement was ratified by the executive independently through a presidential regulation, known as Perpres. President Widodo announced he had signed it in September.

Under the agreement, the boundary between the Singapore and Jakarta FIRs will be realigned to be generally in accordance with Indonesia’s territorial boundaries.

International law divides global airspace into FIRs, holding countries accountable for providing flight information and navigation in their assigned FIRs.

The Singapore FIR – which air traffic controllers in Singapore have managed since 1946 under international arrangements to ensure aviation safety – currently covers the airspace over Indonesia’s Riau and Natuna islands.

But Jakarta has been seeking a realignment for some time, leading up to discussions on the agreement.

Under the FIR deal, parts of Singapore’s FIR that cover Indonesia’s airspace spanning about 249,575 sq km will come under Indonesia’s FIR. Indonesia will delegate the provision of air navigation services for part of this realigned airspace to Singapore for 25 years, which may be extended.

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