Outsourcing Border Security: NGO Involvement in the Monitoring, Processing and Assistance of Indonesian Nationals Returning Illegally by Sea

05 January 2017

Since the signing of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the Straits of Malacca have been identified as a “hot spot” for whole range of maritime security threats, including human trafficking and people smuggling. As a consequence, Indonesia’s national and local authorities have been under immense pressure from the international community to develop and implement programmes that address these concerns. Multilateral agencies and other donor organizations have also pumped millions of dollars into counter-trafficking and anti-smuggling programmes in the Riau Islands. Much of the groundwork for both government and international initiatives is done by NGOs, most of which work to identify and assist repatriated migrant workers or victims of trafficking. In one case, however, a Batam-based NGO has gone far beyond this well-trodden path, developing a system to apprehend undocumented labour migrants who use the services of people smugglers to return to Indonesia without passing through immigration. This article examines the case of Gerakan Anti-Trafficking (Anti-Trafficking Movement, GAT) and its implications for our understanding of emerging modes of non-state involvement in border regulation.