UCA News


Groups form Indonesian anti-trafficking network

Church and advocates come together to tackle scourge that the government alone cannot stop

Groups form Indonesian anti-trafficking network

Activists and students from East Nusa Tenggara province hold a rally in front of the presidential palace in Jakarta on March 26 calling for President Joko Widodo to take special steps to stop human trafficking. (Photo by Ryan Dagur/ucanews.com)

Indonesian church and advocacy groups have formed a network to combat human trafficking of men, women and children.

Established on April 9, the new alliance includes Vivat International and Franciscans International, which run programs for the poor and have special consultative status at the United Nations.

The Franciscan Commission of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation as well as sisters of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary are also involved.

Divine Word Father Paulus Rahmat, director of Vivat International for Indonesia, said network members would act as advocates for victims.

There would also be both local and international campaigns against human trafficking.

"We cannot fully expect the government to solve this problem," Father Rahmat said. "The government may promise to do many things, but in fact the problem never stops."

At a national level, network members will deal with individual cases as well as coordinate with government officials about legal action.

"We are also planning to provide a common fund that will be used to help those who become victims," Father Rahmat said.

Budi Tjahjono of Franciscans International said efforts at an international level had already begun.

He cited for example the raising in March of the human trafficking issue during the 37th regular session of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

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An appeal was made at the session for the Indonesian government to ensure proper investigation of all alleged abuses of migrant workers.

And a moratorium was sought on the sending of Indonesians to work in Malaysia where there has been abuses by employers.

This comes amid public outrage over the death in Malaysia following alleged torture, of Indonesian migrant worker Adelina Jemira Sau.

Hundreds of thousands of Indonesians working in Malaysia without proper documentation — as domestic servants and factory workers as well as on fishing vessels and oil palm plantations — are often at most risk.

On April 7, three girls from impoverished East Nusa Tenggara province were intercepted by police en route to the capital Jakarta. Authorities suspected they were going to be sent to work abroad.

Martinus Gabriel Goa Sola, director of the Advocacy Service for Justice and Peace, stressed that there is an urgent need for greater oversight of abuses reported to the police.

He said too many cases were never concluded or resulted in lenient sentencing. Most people convicted of human trafficking receive a three-year prison sentence compared to a maximum of 15 years. "As a result, there is no deterrent effect," the rights advocate said.

Sola noted that in East Nusa Tenggara province 69 cases had not been concluded.

Meanwhile, Maria Magdalena Sigalingging, from the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration, noted that since 2016 financial assistance had been provided to about 120 villages that have been sources of undocumented migrant workers.

However, she said the government was effectively in a race with migrant worker brokers who offered cash to poor potential recruits.

Even when the government offered a one-stop service for authorized overseas employment, illegal brokers intensified their own efforts.

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