Aplonia Sara Mali Bere, 37, is a former migrant worker from Atambua, Belu district, East Nusa Tenggara province who went to Malaysia twice to work through illegally. (ucanews.com photo)
Indonesian church officials have welcomed a government move to tackle human trafficking by making it easier for migrant workers to obtain legal status and necessary documents.
The Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration has launched a one-stop service to issue official documentation to migrant workers in Kupang, capital of Catholic majority East Nusa Tenggara province, which has the highest number of human trafficking cases.
Obtaining permits used to be a very long process and could take months, said Samuel Adu, a Manpower and Transmigration official.
"This was exploited by brokers who passed on workers illegally along a human trafficking chain,” he said.
With the new system, the process of obtaining permits is much quicker, less then a week.
Father Paulus Christian Siswantoko, secretary of the bishops' Commission for Justice, Peace and Pastoral for Migrant-Itinerant People welcomed the move, but asked the government to make sure the new system stays corruption free.
"Corruption is commonly practiced in issuing permits," he said.
Father Yohanes Kristoforus Tara, coordinator of the Franciscan’s Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation’s commission in Timor also welcomed the move but also called on the government to provide would-be migrants with skills training.
This would make government efforts against trafficking a little more comprehensive," he said.
Reyna Usman, another official at the Minister of Manpower and Transmigration said the new service in East Nusa Tenggara will also help the families of migrant workers stay in touch with them.
"The family will know where, with whom and for how long the migrant worker is working as all this information will be logged," she said.
According to the East Nusa Tenggara Regional Police more than 1,600 people were trafficked over the last two years, many of them were children.
Aplonia Sara Mali Bere, a former migrant worker from Atambua in Belu district who twice went to Malaysia to work illegally said the new system should afford people like her better protection.
"If the government is now trying to make things easier, I'm sure a lot of workers will go through official channels," she said.