Father Chrisanctus Paschalis Saturnus holds his LPSK Award. The activist priest from Pangkalpinang Diocese was recognized for his fight against human trafficking on Aug. 28 by the LPSK, an independent government agency which provides protection to witnesses and victims of crimes. (Photo by Katharina R. Lestari/ucanews.com)
An activist Catholic priest has received a national award for fighting against human trafficking in Batam, a transit hub for illegal migrant workers in Indonesia’s Riau Islands.
Father Chrisanctus Paschalis Saturnus, head of Pangkalpinang Diocese’s Commission for Justice, Peace and Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, received the Witness and Victim Protection Agency (LPSK) Award on Aug. 28 in recognition of his significant role and active support in protecting victims of human trafficking.
The award was given by the LPSK, an independent government agency which provides protection to witnesses and victims of crimes during criminal investigations, as part of its celebrations marking its 11th anniversary.
“Father Paschalis deserves the award because he dedicates his entire time, energy and thought to defending the rights of victims of human trafficking,” LPSK chief Hasto Atmojo Suroyo told ucanews.com after the awards ceremony in Jakarta.
The priest began working with the LPSK in protecting human trafficking victims in 2014, a year after he first took up the cause.
Since 2013, he and his team have rescued more than 500 victims. They are generally women and children hired to become domestic workers in other countries, particularly Malaysia. Some migrants were recruited to become sex workers in the region.
In recent years, predominantly Catholic East Nusa Tenggara province has recorded the highest number of trafficking cases in the country. More than 50 percent of victims reportedly come from the province. In 2014 the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) recording around 7,190 people having been trafficked from there.
Thanks to Father Paschalis’ efforts, at least 10 traffickers have been imprisoned over the last six years and are serving jail terms of between one to nine years.
“I never expected an award like this or even thought about it. I think there are many other people whose work is actually more extraordinary than mine and perhaps they deserve the award more than me,” Father Paschalis told ucanews.com.
“But … the award is surely an honor to all people who work for humanity as well as to witnesses and victims who have spoken up for justice.”
He praised the LPSK for having contributed much to his efforts to protect victims of human trafficking.
As well as the priest, there were six other award recipients, including the Kulonprogo district attorney in Yogyakarta province and the Legal Aid Foundation of the Indonesian Women’s Association for Justice in Jakarta.