The US State Department’s latest report on human trafficking has highlighted Indonesia’s rampant government corruption, lack of law enforcement and weak legislation to protect migrant workers as among the factors making the country a major source of trafficking victims.
“Indonesia is a major source country and, to a much lesser extent, a destination and transit country for women, children and men who are subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor,” said the Trafficking in Persons Report 2012, released on Tuesday in the United States.
Citing government estimates, the report said there were 4.3 million documented Indonesian migrants working outside the country and another 1.7 million undocumented workers. About 69 percent of Indonesians working abroad are women.
Two percent of properly documented Indonesian workers abroad become victims of trafficking while the number among the undocumented ones is significantly higher, the report said.
It noted that, according to the International Organization for Migration, “labor recruiters are responsible for more than 50 percent of the Indonesian female workers who experience trafficking conditions in destination countries.”
“Some [recruiters] operate similarly to trafficking rings, leading both male and female workers into debt bondage and other trafficking situations,” it said.
“Traffickers regularly operate with impunity and escape punishment because of endemic corruption among law enforcement officials and the government’s lack of commitment to upholding the rule of law.”
Internal trafficking is also a significant problem in Indonesia, with women and girls exploited in domestic servitude, commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor in rural agriculture, mining and fishing, the report said.
It identified graft as a key factor in the issuance of false documents for future victims, lax border controls, official tolerance and even profiting from illegal commercial sex sites, as well as through the compromise of law enforcement investigations and judicial processes.
Among the recommendations it made was for amendments to the 2004 Overseas Labor Placement and Protection Law “in order to provide effective protections to Indonesian migrants recruited for work abroad, particularly female domestic workers, as a means of preventing potential trafficking of these migrants.”
It also called for greater efforts to prosecute and punish recruiters and officials involved in trafficking, as well as improved collection and analysis of data on legal proceedings against traffickers.
“The Government of Indonesia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so,” the report said.
This included strengthening the ability of the National Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers (BNP2TKI) to monitor those going abroad for work. It also said the agency should protect them from fraudulent recruitment and trafficking.
But it identified the decentralized government structure as an obstacle to coordinating national anti-trafficking programs. The report called for increased awareness campaigns “targeted at the public and law enforcement personnel at all levels of government in primary trafficking source regions.”