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Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 - Indonesia

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 14 June 2010
Cite as United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 - Indonesia, 14 June 2010, available at: [accessed 1 December 2015]
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 is a major source country, and to a much lesser extent a destination and transit country for women, children, and men who are subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced prostitution and forced labor. Each of Indonesia's 33 provinces is a source and destination of trafficking, with the most significant source areas being Java, West Kalimantan, Lampung, North Sumatra, and South Sumatra. A significant number of Indonesian migrant workers face conditions of forced labor and debt bondage in more developed Asian countries and the Middle East – particularly Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Japan, Kuwait, Syria, and Iraq. During the year, the number of Indonesians seeking work abroad hit an all time high. There are an estimated 6.5 million to 9 million Indonesian migrant workers worldwide, including 2.6 million in Malaysia and 1.8 million in the Middle East. An estimated 69 percent of all overseas Indonesia workers are female and over half of all overseas workers are children. Indonesian NGO Migrant Care estimates that 43 percent – or some 3 million – of Indonesia's expatriate workforce are victims of trafficking conditions. Another respected Indonesian NGO notes that the number of Indonesian women who are raped while working as domestic workers in the Middle East is on the rise. According to IOM, labor recruiters, both legal and illegal, are responsible for more than 50 percent of the Indonesian female workers who experience trafficking conditions in destination countries. Some recruiters work independently, others for recruitment labor companies called PJTKIs (which include both legal and illegal companies). Some PJTKIs operate similar to trafficking rings, leading both male and female workers into debt bondage and other trafficking situations. These recruitment brokers often operate outside the law with impunity, and some PJTKIs use ties to government officials or police to escape punishment. Workers recruited for overseas work by PJTKIs are often confined involuntarily for months in compounds – ostensibly for training and processing – prior to their deployment. Licensed and unlicensed companies used debt bondage, withholding of documents, threats of violence, and confinement in locked premises for extended periods to traffic Indonesian migrants.

Indonesian women and migrate to Malaysia, Singapore, and the Middle East and are subsequently subjected to forced prostitution; they are also subjected to both forced prostitution and forced labor within Indonesia. Children are trafficked internally and abroad primarily for domestic servitude, forced prostitution, and cottage industries. Many of these trafficked girls work 14-16 hours a day at very low wages, often under perpetual debt due to pay advances given to their families by Indonesian brokers. Debt bondage is particularly pronounced among sex trafficking victims, with an initial debt of some $600 to $1,200 imposed on victims; given an accumulation of additional fees and debts, women and girls are often unable to escape this indebted servitude, even after years in the sex trade. Sixty percent of children under five years old do not have official birth certificates, putting them at higher risk for trafficking. Traffickers employ a variety of means to attract and control victims, including promises of well-paying jobs, debt bondage, community and family pressures, threats of violence, rape, false marriages, and confiscation of passports. In a continued trend, some traffickers' kidnap victims for forced prostitution in the sex trade in Malaysia and the Middle East. A new trend identified by Indonesian police is the recruitment of Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia for Umrah, a religious pilgrimage to Mecca; once in the Saudi Kingdom they are trafficked to other points in the Middle East. During the year, traffickers were also found to use various Internet social networking media to recruit victims, particularly children, for sex trafficking. Some foreign women from mainland China, Thailand, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe were victims of sex trafficking in Indonesia.

Internal trafficking is also a significant problem in Indonesia, with women and girls exploited in domestic servitude, commercial sexual exploitation, rural agriculture, mining, and fishing. Many victims were originally recruited with offers of jobs in restaurants, factories, or as domestic workers before they were forced into prostitution. Child sex tourism is prevalent in most urban areas and tourist destinations, such as Bali and Riau Island. Some traffickers continued to forge partnerships with school officials to recruit young men and women in vocational programs for forced labor on fishing boats through fraudulent "internship" opportunities.

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. During the year, the government increased the number of both sex and labor trafficking offenders convicted and passed a new five-year anti-trafficking action plan. However, some Indonesian police continue to be passive in combating trafficking absent specific complaints, and corruption among officials involved both directly and indirectly in trafficking crimes remained rampant. During the year, greater civil society and government attention focused on the dearth of adequate protections and preventative measures confronting the forced labor of Indonesian citizens – the country's largest form of human trafficking – particularly the weak structures of the 2004 migrant labor law (Law No.39) and its offspring, the National Agency for Placement and Protection of Indonesia Overseas Workers (BNP2TKI). The BNP2TKI is an independent joint agency consisting of 11 ministries tasked to protect workers, but its overlap with the preexisting Manpower Ministry's roles sometimes hampers its effectiveness. The government needs to make greater efforts to both combat trafficking-related complicity and greatly increase regulation and oversight of Indonesian labor recruitment companies exploiting workers in order to make more meaningful strides to combat trafficking.

Recommendations for Indonesia: Reform the legal labor export system, particularly the 2004 Overseas Labor Placement and Protection Law and its weak enforcement body – the BNP2TKI – to reduce the vulnerabilities to human trafficking now facing Indonesian migrant workers; criminally prosecute and punish labor recruitment agencies involved in trafficking and fraudulent recruitment, including the charging of recruitment fees that are grossly disproportionate to the services that recruiters provide; undertake efforts to prosecute and punish those who obtain commercial sexual services from children in prostitution; increase government funding at all levels of government for law enforcement efforts against trafficking and the rescue, recovery, and reintegration of trafficking victims; increase efforts to protect domestic workers within Indonesia, particularly children, through law enforcement, public awareness and assistance to families; improve the collection, analysis, and public reporting of comprehensive data on law enforcement actions taken under the 2007 law; complete a revised Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Malaysia and other destination countries on Indonesian domestic workers, providing them with internationally recognized protections; increase efforts to prosecute and convict public officials – particularly law enforcement and manpower officials who are involved in trafficking; and increase efforts to combat trafficking through awareness campaigns targeted at the public and law enforcement personnel at all levels of government in main trafficking source regions.


The Indonesian government continued efforts to prosecute and convict trafficking offenders during the year. Through a comprehensive anti-trafficking law enacted in 2007, Indonesia prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons, prescribing penalties of three to 15 years' imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Police and prosecutors, many of whom are still unfamiliar with the legislation, are often reluctant or unsure of how to effectively use it to punish traffickers. While police reportedly used the 2007 law to prepare cases for prosecutors, prosecutors and judges are still frequently using other laws to prosecute traffickers. This year prosecutors used the 2007 law in 56 percent of the cases they prosecuted; they should increase efforts to apply this law more consistently. The government prosecuted 139 suspected trafficking offenders in 2009 - an increase from 129 in 2008. At least 72 of the 139 prosecutions were for labor trafficking. The Indonesian government obtained the convictions of 84 trafficking offenders in 2009, and at least 29 of these convictions were for labor trafficking; this is an increase of the overall 55 offenders convicted in 2008, nine of whom were convicted for labor trafficking. Indonesian officials and local NGOs continued to criticize the police as being too passive in combating trafficking absent specific complaints. NGOs also reported that in cases where police rescued trafficking victims, they often failed to pursue their traffickers, who fled to other regions or left the country. While police were often aware of children in prostitution or other trafficking situations, they frequently failed to intervene to arrest probable traffickers or to protect victims without specific reports from third parties. Police assigned liaison officers to Indonesian embassies in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand to support law enforcement cooperation with host governments, including trafficking investigations. The government continued to work with foreign partners and NGOs to train law enforcement officials on trafficking.

Corruption remains endemic in Indonesia, and members of the security forces continued to be involved both directly and indirectly in trafficking. Police and military officials were sometimes associated with brothels and fronts for prostitution, most frequently through the collection of protection money, which was a widespread practice. Some security force members were also brothel owners, including allegedly in the "Dolly" prostitution complex in Surabaya, one of Southeast Asia's largest brothel areas. Fraudulent recruitment brokers involved in trafficking often operate outside the law with impunity. Some Ministry of Manpower (MOM) officials reportedly licensed and protected international labor recruiting agencies involved in human trafficking, despite the officials' knowledge of the agencies' involvement in trafficking. Some fraudulent recruitment agencies tied to families or friends of government officials or police make deals when caught, and then continue to operate. Government passport services remained the object of widespread corruption, and recruitment agencies routinely falsified birth dates, including for children, in order to apply for passports and migrant worker documents.

The Manpower Ministry publicly stated that it is identifying and punishing these companies, and the media frequently reports arrests of labor company recruiters. For example, in July 2009, the National Police arrested the manager of a labor recruiting company for allegedly trafficking women to the Middle East and Malaysia to work as maids. However, the Ministry has not yet provided any statistics on such activities. Some local officials facilitated trafficking by certifying false information in the production of national identity cards and family data cards for children, allowing them to be recruited for work as adults abroad and within the country. In return for bribes, some Immigration officials turned a blind eye to potential trafficking victims, failing to screen or act with due diligence in processing passports and immigration control. In April 2009, four consular officials from Indonesia's Consulate General in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, were sentenced to two years' imprisonment for charging inflated fees to Indonesian migrant workers seeking visa services. In October 2009, Indonesian police arrested a Ministry of Trade official involved in a visa scam for a tour company which served as a front for human trafficking. Twelve victims were rescued from the tour company's "safe house" in Banten.


The Indonesian government continued to protect victims of trafficking during the year, although these efforts remained uneven and inadequate in comparison with the scope of the country's trafficking problem. The Social Welfare Ministry operated 22 shelters and trauma clinics for victims of sex and labor trafficking and the National Police operated several "integrated service centers," which provided medical services to victims of violence they were also accessible to victims of trafficking. The government continued to operate more than 500 districtlevel women's help desks to assist women and child victims of violence, including trafficking. The government relied significantly on international organizations and NGOs for the provision of services to victims, such as IOM assistance in running the police integrated service centers, and provided some limited funding to domestic NGOs and civil society groups that supported services for populations which included trafficking victims. Most security personnel did not employ formal procedures for the identification and referral of victims among vulnerable groups, such as females in prostitution, children migrating within the country, and workers returning from abroad, but did refer some victims to service providers on an ad hoc basis.

During the year, the government increased overall funding for anti-trafficking protection efforts in its inter-Ministry task force by 16 percent. Much of the government's funding in 2010 was allotted to the Ministry of Women's Empowerment and Child Protection ($500,000), a shift in funding from the Ministry of Social Welfare reflecting the transfer of coordination of the national anti-trafficking task force from the latter to the former in 2009. Nonetheless, the Social Welfare Ministry continued programs that included operating trauma centers, providing more psychosocial workers and trauma experts, and training on trauma treatment. The Women's Ministry's new funding was directed to coordination meetings, awareness trainings throughout the country and operational costs for trainers.

Screening of migrants at Terminal Four of Jakarta International Airport remained inadequate, and authorities do not appear to identify many trafficking victims that travel through the terminal. Both the BNP2TKI and MOM were largely ineffective in protecting migrant workers from trafficking. Some trafficking victims were detained and arrested by police, including through raids on prostitution establishments; some anti-prostitution raids were carried out by police in order to extract bribes from managers and owners of these establishments. There were reports that some police refused to receive trafficking complaints from victims, instead urging the victims to reach informal settlements with their traffickers. Some government personnel encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases, while others were less solicitous of victims' cooperation. The prolonged nature of court cases often led victims to avoid cooperating with the prosecution of their traffickers; additionally, the government does not provide adequate funds for victim witnesses to travel to trials. Authorities continued to round up and deport a small number of women in prostitution without determining whether they were victims of trafficking. Indonesia's Foreign Ministry continued to operate shelters for trafficking victims and migrant workers at some of its embassies and consulates abroad. These diplomatic shelters sheltered thousands of Indonesian citizens in distress, including trafficking victims. In January 2010, an inter-ministerial working group, in partnership with IOM, rescued and repatriated 425 female Indonesian workers from Indonesian embassy shelters in Riyadh and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Amman, Jordan, as well as 199 workers from the Indonesian embassy's shelter in Kuwait.


The Indonesian government made inadequate efforts to prevent human trafficking during the reporting period. The government continued efforts to coordinate anti-trafficking programs and policies through a national task force on trafficking, which includes working group subunits on coordination, policy, and other areas. The chair of the task force was transferred from the Ministry of Social Welfare to the Ministry of Women's Empowerment and Child Protection. The national task force continued to lack sufficient funding and a full-time secretariat, limiting its effectiveness. Additionally, 16 provinces and 27 districts and municipalities coordinated anti-trafficking efforts at local levels during the reporting period. The government continued partnerships with NGOs and international organizations to increase public awareness of trafficking.

During the year, the government increased funding to four ministries for anti-trafficking efforts. In November 2009, the Coordinating Ministry of Social Welfare issued a new anti-trafficking action plan for 2009-2014. This was the result of coordination amongst members of joint task force against trafficking. The government continued, but was not able to conclude during the reporting period, negotiations with the Malaysian government on amendments to a 2006 MOU covering Indonesian domestic workers. The 2006 MOU ceded the rights of Indonesian domestic workers to hold their passports while working in Malaysia. The BNP2TKI and the law that established it – the 2004 Labor Placement and Protection Law (Law No. 39) – are widely regarded as ineffective in preventing labor trafficking, and NGOs have called for its abolishment or overhaul; the legislature has agreed it needs revising. The Ministry of Manpower reportedly fined some labor recruiting companies (PJTKIs) and cancelled the licenses of others for fraudulent recruitment practices that may have contributed to forced labor, though data on these actions were not provided by the government. The government did not effectively monitor immigration and emigration patterns for evidence of trafficking, with some limited exceptions. The government did not report efforts to reduce the demand for forced labor or the demand for commercial sex acts during the year.

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