Indonesia seeks expansion of rights over continental shelf rich in mineral resources

Customers wearing protective face shields to help curb the spread of coronavirus enjoy lunch at a seafood restaurant on the outskirts of Jakarta on Wednesday. (AP)
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Updated 11 June 2020

Indonesia seeks expansion of rights over continental shelf rich in mineral resources

  • Country has submitted claim to UN for an area of 196,568 square kilometers

JAKARTA: Indonesia is seeking to expand its legal rights over a continental shelf with untapped mineral resources beyond its current 200 nautical miles north of Papua province, an official said on Tuesday.

Purbaya Yudhi Sadewa, a deputy minister for maritime sovereignty and energy at the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, said in a press conference the first hearing of Indonesia’s April 2019 submission of its claim had taken place at the United Nations in New York in March.

“As a state party to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS, Indonesia has the right to submit claims to expand our continental shelf over an area … north of Papua province. It is roughly 196,568 square kilometers,” Sadewa said.

A seabed measurement conducted from June to September 2019 by the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology to determine Indonesia’s outermost boundaries in the northern waters of Papua showed that there is an elevation known as the Eauripik Rise on the seabed which serves as a bridge connecting the plain of Papua to the plain in the area Indonesia is seeking to claim.

Responding to a question from Arab News, Sadewa said that, according to experts, the bridge is basis enough for Indonesia to claim the area as its expanded continental shelf.

“There is a potential for mineral reserves, but we don’t know for sure yet,” he explained. “Other countries — small island countries — are doing the same, too and they could have the exclusive rights over the area and the mineral reserves under the seabed. We don’t want to be left behind.” He added that the process to have sovereign rights over the continental shelf would be a “struggle” and could take seven to eight years to resolve.

Sadewa also said that the government is also seeking to claim a further 200,000 square kilometers of continental shelf in the waters southwest of Sumatra island and is conducting a survey to collect evidence before submitting the claim to the UN.

“We have been quietly working to expand our nation’s territory,” Sadewa said.

I Made Andi Arsana, a geodetic engineering expert from Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, told Arab News, “We are playing with imagination and with hopes (of potential mineral reserves), but if we do not claim it now, we could lose the chance to secure it for future generations.”

Arsana added that other island countries located north of the area, including Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia, could lay claim to the area, too, as it sits south of their territories, even though there is not yet sufficient data to prove whether there are valuable mineral reserves there.

He said the UN Commission on the Limit of the Continental Shelf (UNCLCS) — to which Indonesia submitted its claim — would issue a binding resolution over countries’ rights to a continental shelf based on scientific and technical data, but that, should two neighboring countries’ continental shelves overlap, it would be up to the two countries to negotiate where to draw their boundaries.


Two accomplices in Kenya’s Westgate attack jailed for 33 and 18 years

Updated 30 October 2020

Two accomplices in Kenya’s Westgate attack jailed for 33 and 18 years

  • Mohamed Ahmed Abdi and Hassan Hussein Mustafa, both 31, were found guilty on October 7 of conspiring with and supporting the four assailants
  • The convicted men were in regular contact with the attackers who at midday on September 21, 2013, stormed the upscale Westgate mall in the Kenyan capital

NAIROBI: A Kenyan court Friday handed prison terms of 33 and 18 years respectively to two men accused of conspiring with the Al-Shabab extremists who attacked Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall in 2013, killing 67 people.

Mohamed Ahmed Abdi and Hassan Hussein Mustafa, both 31, were found guilty on October 7 of conspiring with and supporting the four assailants from the Somalia-based extremist group who died in what was then Kenya’s worst terrorist attack in 15 years.

The accused asked the judge for leniency, saying they had already served seven years behind bars and had family to care for.

“Despite mitigation by their defense lawyers on their innocence, the offense committed was serious, devastating, destructive, that called for a punishment by the court,” Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi told a Nairobi courtroom.

He sentenced the men to 18 years for conspiracy and 18 for supporting extremists, but ordered they serve both terms together. Abdi was also given an additional 15 years for two counts of possessing extremist propaganda material on his laptop.

He will serve 26 years and Mustafa 11, taking into account their pre-trial detention.

The convicted men were in regular contact with the attackers who at midday on September 21, 2013, stormed the upscale Westgate mall in the Kenyan capital and began throwing grenades and firing indiscriminately on shoppers and business owners.

A four-day siege ensued — much of it broadcast live on television — during which Kenyan security forces tried to flush out the gunmen and take back the high-end retail complex.

Although there was no specific evidence Abdi and Mustafa had provided material help, the court was satisfied their communication with the attackers amounted to supporting the armed rampage, and justified the guilty verdict for conspiracy.

The marathon trial began in January 2014. A third accused was acquitted of all charges.
The Westgate attack was claimed by Al-Shabab in retaliation for Kenya intervening military over the border in Somalia, where the extremist group was waging a bloody insurgency against the fragile central government.

Kenya is a major contributor of troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which in 2011 drove Al-Shabab out of Mogadishu and other urban strongholds after a months-long offensive.

In a car the attackers drove to Westgate, police found evidence of newly-activated SIM cards used by the gunmen. Their communications were traced, including calls to Mohamed Ahmed Abdi and Hassan Hussein Mustafa.

A fourth defendant, Adan Mohammed Abdikadir, was acquitted in early 2019 for lack of evidence.

The Westgate attack was the deadliest incident of violent extremism on Kenyan soil since the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi, which killed 213 people.

But since the assault on the shopping complex, Al-Shabab has perpetrated further atrocities in Kenya against civilian targets.

In April 2015, gunmen entered Garissa University and killed 148 people, almost all of them students. Many were shot point blank after being identified as Christians.

In January 2019, the militants struck Nairobi again, hitting the Dusit Hotel and surrounding offices and killing 21 people.

Al-Shabab warned in a January statement that Kenya “will never be safe” as long as its troops were stationed in Somalia, and threatened further attacks on tourists and US interests.

That same month, Al-Shabab attacked a US military base in northeast Kenya in a cross-border raid, killing three Americans and destroying a number of aircraft.