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Indonesia eases migrant worker documentation

Move aims to deter people from trying to work abroad illegally or falling victim to traffickers

Indonesia eases migrant worker documentation

Migrant workers from Indonesia wear placards on their heads as they chat during a Labour Day rally in Hong Kong in this May 1, 2014 file photo. They were calling for better working conditions and better wages. (Photo by Anthony Wallace/AFP)

March 10, 2017

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Indonesian authorities have simplified bureaucratic procedures to allow migrant workers to obtain work permits easier.

The aim is to reduce the number of Indonesians working abroad illegally or becoming human trafficking victims.

Nusron Wahid, head of the Agency of Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers, said complex procedures — which includes having to go to many different offices — force many people to take shortcuts, which often sees people working abroad without proper documentation or falling victim to traffickers.

According to the U.S. government's 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report, 1.9 million of the 4.5 million Indonesians working abroad — many of whom are women — are undocumented or have overstayed their visas, increasing their vulnerability to trafficking. Most work in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia as domestic workers.

Indonesia's Foreign Ministry recorded more than 1,300 human trafficking cases between 2013 and 2016.

Wahid said his agency was opening "one-stop-service" facilities across the country, especially in areas where people are more likely to fall victims to human traffickers such as Christian majority East Nusa Tenggara province.

Manpower Minister Hanif Dhakiri said his ministry has launched what it calls a Productive Migrant Village initiative in 50 regencies and cities to help migrant worker's families.

The initiative includes the establishment of service centers where villagers can get new about their relatives abroad, loans for business enterprises, and day care facilities for children, Dhakiri said.

Lia Wetanwerah, head of the East Indonesia Women's Network, which campaigns against human trafficking says the measures do not go far enough.

"What needs to be considered is the protection of workers already working abroad," she said. "Both programs do not pay much attention to protection."

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