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Indonesian church: Government must help migrants

Church activists pressure government to help Indonesian migrant workers

Published: May 17, 2017 09:21 AM GMT

Updated: May 17, 2017 09:22 AM GMT

Indonesian church: Government must help migrants

Undocumented Indonesian workers line up before being deported back to Indonesia, at Subang Airport in Subang, outside Kuala Lumpur in this file image taken Dec. 23, 2014. On that day, Malaysia deported nearly 500 undocumented Indonesian workers. (Photo by Mohd Rasfan/AFP)

Indonesian church officials have spoken out against the neglect of nearly two million Indonesian overseas workers, urging the government to take stringent sanctions against employment agencies who break the law. 

Father Paulus Siswantoko, executive secretary of Indonesian bishops' Commission for Justice, Peace and Pastoral for Migrant People, said the government must take action against illegal agents and provide workers with education and related skills.

"The government must create a policy to protect migrant workers so the number of those facing abuse will not increase every year," Father Siswantoko said. 

The Coordinating Ministry for Human Resources said there are 1.8 million Indonesian migrant workers who are vulnerable, of whom 1.25 million are in Malaysia and 588,000 are in Saudi Arabia.

Father Siswantoko said people working without proper documentation, good education and skills quickly become the target of abuse.

Wahyu Susilo, executive director of Migrants Care, said the government has failed to protect migrant workers even though it passed a law in 2012 to try and safeguard their rights.

"Migrants still face violence, death, slavery and torture," said Susilo. He said some 300 Indonesian female workers were detained in Saudi Arabia early this year.

Siti Badriah, a former domestic helper in Malaysia, said the problems not only overshadow illegal workers but also those with legal papers. She said although she had the documents her Malaysian employer still did not pay her salary for nine months. 

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