Last Updated: Monday, 30 May 2016, 14:07 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Indonesia

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 12 June 2007
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Indonesia, 12 June 2007, available at: [accessed 31 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Indonesia (Tier 2)

Indonesia is a source, transit, and destination country for women, children, and men trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor.

The number of women trafficked to Japan under the guise of "cultural performers" decreased over the past year. Women from West Kalimantan who migrate to Taiwan and Hong Kong as contract brides are often forced into prostitution or debt bondage. A significant number of Indonesian women who go overseas each year to work as domestic servants are subjected to exploitation and conditions of involuntary servitude in Malaysia, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Syria, Kuwait, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

Some of Indonesia's licensed and unlicensed migrant labor recruiting agencies operated in ways similar to trafficking rings, leading both male and female workers into debt bondage and abusive labor situations. Internal sex and labor trafficking is rampant throughout Indonesia from rural to urban areas. The Riau Islands continued as transit and destination points for Indonesian women and girls trafficked for sexual exploitation.

Young women and girls are trafficked from the Riau Islands to Malaysia and Singapore by pimps for short trips. Malaysians and Singaporeans constitute the largest number of sex tourists, and the Riau Islands and surrounding areas operate a "prostitution economy." An alarming number of Indonesians trafficked to Malaysia and Saudi Arabia are subjected to severe physical and sexual abuse. Trafficking of "brides" to Taiwan for sexual exploitation persists. Women from the People's Republic of China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Uzbekistan, the Netherlands, Poland, Venezuela, Spain, and Ukraine are trafficked to Indonesia for sexual exploitation, although the numbers are small compared with the number of Indonesians trafficked for this purpose.

The Government of Indonesia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. In April 2007, Indonesia's president signed into law a comprehensive anti-trafficking bill that provides law enforcement authorities the power to investigate all forms of trafficking. The anti-trafficking law provides a powerful tool in efforts to prosecute and convict traffickers and have them face stiff prison sentences and fines. Success will depend on the political will of senior law enforcement officials to use the law and on the quick drafting of the law's implementing regulations. The new law incorporates all major elements suggested by civil society and the international community, including definitions of debt bondage, labor exploitation, sexual exploitation, and transnational and internal trafficking.

Despite the recent passage of this comprehensive anti-trafficking law, the extent of Indonesia's non-compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking remains considerable. It has the region's largest trafficking problem, with hundreds of thousands of trafficking victims, and it has a huge and largely unchecked problem of trafficking-related complicity by public officials. Law enforcement efforts improved over the last year, but remain insufficient, and there has been scant political will shown to provide greater protection to migrant workers at risk of trafficking.

A memorandum of understanding with Malaysia signed in May 2006 ceded basic worker rights to employers making it easier for Indonesians to be trapped in slave-like conditions. The agreement allows Malaysian employers to hold workers' passports, restrict their freedom to return home, deduct up to 50 percent of their negotiated monthly wages to repay loans, and provide no time off. While the Ministry of Manpower conducted crackdowns on illegal activities of migrant manpower agencies, there was no official recognition that Indonesia's migrant worker system lacks measures to protect workers from exploitation or debt bondage. The government should make greater efforts to prosecute and convict public officials who profit from or are involved in trafficking. It is essential that the government implement a migrant manpower recruitment and placement system that incorporates measures to protect workers, rather than benefiting exploitative manpower agencies and employers. The government should also greatly increase its budget for the prevention of trafficking as well as the repatriation, treatment and rehabilitation of victims, relying less on international donors.


The Indonesian government demonstrated improved efforts to combat trafficking in persons in 2006, although the lack of a comprehensive law stymied the effectiveness of these efforts. With the passage and enactment in April 2007 of a comprehensive anti-trafficking law, Indonesia now prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons; the law prescribes penalties of 3 to 15 years' imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those for other grave crimes. The new anti-trafficking law contains provisions for the prosecution of corporate entities which could be applied to job placement agencies involved in trafficking. Another provision specifically criminalizes trafficking by government officials. The new law will also facilitate anti-trafficking data collection, a chronic problem in Indonesia.

Law enforcement against traffickers increased in 2006 over 2005, with arrests up 29 percent, from 110 to 142; prosecutions up 87 percent, from 30 to 56; and convictions up 112 percent, from 17 to 36. The average sentence in these cases was 54 months. The longest trafficking sentence in 2006 was 15 years, imposed pursuant to the Child Protection Act. The number of women's police desks helping victims increased to 280 in 2006, while national trafficking police investigators nearly doubled to 20, still an inadequate number given the huge size of Indonesia's trafficking problem. Prosecutors with the Transnational Crime Center, which was established in July 2006 to handle high-priority cases of trafficking and terrorism, prosecuted 10 trafficking cases in its first six months of operation. A number of provincial and local laws were also passed to protect women and children against trafficking.

Indonesia posted police liaison officers in Indonesian embassies in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Australia, and Thailand to aid in trafficking investigations. Complicity in trafficking of individual security force members and corrupt officials involved in prostitution and sex trafficking remained unchecked. Individual members of the security forces were complicit in trafficking, providing protection to brothels and prostitution fronts or by receiving bribes. The former Indonesian Consul General in Penang, Malaysia, was sentenced to 20 months' imprisonment and fined 100 million rupiah for collecting illegal charges from Indonesian laborers in Malaysia. A former Consul General in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, was arrested for inflating fees for services and abusing authority.


The Indonesian government increased efforts, at the national and local levels, to protect victims of trafficking in Indonesia and abroad; however, available victim services are overwhelmed by the large number of trafficking victims. The government's policy is to encourage victim participation in investigations against traffickers and not to detain or imprison trafficking victims; however, local government and police practices varied. In some cases police officers treated victims as criminals, subjected them to detention, and demanded bribes from them. Authorities continued to round up and deport a small number of foreign women and girls in prostitution without attempting to identify trafficking victims among them. The government operates four medical centers that treat trafficking victims. The Foreign Ministry operated shelters for trafficking victims and migrant workers at its embassies and consulates in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Singapore. The Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, established a medical clinic in its shelter. The National Agency for the Placement and Protection of Overseas Workers, which began operating in March 2007, is responsible for providing legal protection for Indonesian migrant workers. Headed by a former labor leader, the agency showed promise in its first month by partnering with a local NGO to monitor treatment of migrant workers at Jakarta's international airport. Regulation and monitoring of the hundreds of migrant labor recruiting agencies has been inadequate, with many of these recruiting agencies defrauding and confining workers prior to their departure abroad. A new witness protection law enacted in August 2006 should give prosecutors more leeway in obtaining testimony against traffickers while protecting victims through the use of videotaped testimony. The government began funding the psychological rehabilitation of trafficking victims, a third or more of the cost of medical treatment, and health services in Malaysia. Manpower and national police took initial steps to cooperate in providing protection of trafficked migrant workers by signing a memorandum of understanding which provides for joint enforcement at all transit airports and ports. The government provided an anti-trafficking budget for the first time in 2007, allocating $4.8 million.


The Indonesian government continued efforts to promote awareness and prevent trafficking in persons in 2006. The government collaborated with numerous NGO and international organization efforts to raise awareness and prevent trafficking in persons. The Women's Ministry conducted awareness-raising efforts in 16 provinces and sponsored a televised public service announcement on private national television stations. Many local task force partnerships of government and civil society organizations contributed greatly to anti-trafficking efforts at the grass-roots level. Limited public education material aimed at stopping child sex tourism was distributed in Bali and Batam. Indonesia has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.

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