Passport requests in Batam rejected to prevent Indonesians from joining ISIS

Immigration officials show documents regarding recently uncovered immigration violations by the Batam Immigration Office during a press conference in Batam on Jan 4, 2017.
Immigration officials show documents regarding recently uncovered immigration violations by the Batam Immigration Office during a press conference in Batam on Jan 4, 2017.PHOTO: THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Batam Immigration Office rejected 418 passport issuance requests throughout 2016, in which the majority of rejected applicants were suspected to have made plans to depart for the Middle East to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) extremist group.

Batam Immigration Office head Teguh Prayitno said the rejection was part of anticipatory measures to prevent more Indonesian citizens from taking part in the ISIS movement.

He said the 418 applicants had been rejected not only by the biometric system but also based on the results of interviews, during which it was indicated that they desired to work illegally abroad and join with a movement suspected as being part of the ISIS.

"Our rejection was related with our preventive efforts so there will be no more Indonesian citizens joining the ISIS. But I cannot yet mention in detail how many passport applicants were rejected under suspicions of joining with the ISIS," Teguh told The Jakarta Post on Thursday (Jan 5).

He further said out of 418 applicants, 118 people had been rejected by the biometric verification process, which would automatically reject an applicant identified of having possessed more than one passport. The rejections of the 300 others were based on analysis conducted by immigration officers who interviewed them.

"The officers drew conclusions based on their gestures and explanations, which aroused suspicion, during their interviews," said Teguh.

He further said 39 out of the 418 applicants were even barred from applying for a passport again for certain periods, ranging from six months to two years.

"We have also delayed the departure of 40 Indonesian citizens via Batam on suspicion that they would commit illegal activities abroad, including joining the IS," said Teguh.