Jakarta. The national task force against human trafficking must step up its efforts to stem the rising number of women and children falling victim to the practice, the vice president said on Thursday.
Speaking at the signing of a memorandum of understanding by several regional heads to tackle trafficking, Vice President Boediono said there should be “no tolerance” in cracking down on the practice.
“From the legal and social aspects, the punishment for human traffickers must be tougher,” he said on Thursday.
“Trafficking in humans is unconscionable for everyone.”
The signing ceremony involved the heads of 18 provinces and 60 districts that the national task force had deemed endemic for cases of human trafficking.
Linda Gumelar, the minister for women’s empowerment and child protection, said up to 3,785 Indonesians had fallen victim to human traffickers.
She did not specify over what period.
Thursday’s event at the State Palace also included a national coordination meeting to fight trafficking, which discussed, among other issues, commitments to cracking down on the crime and sharing knowledge on eradication techniques.
“Human trafficking is a new form of slavery,” Boediono said. “The basic rights of those who are traded are violated. They are treated as commodities, as livestock, and this goes against people’s conscience everywhere.”
The vice president also warned of the new, even more insidious practice of trading in human organs. “This is sad, and we should never let it happen in our motherland,” he said.
For that reason, Boediono said, the members of the national task force must view their jobs not just as a source of income, but as a part of a noble cause.
“I want the task force, the governors and the regional heads to put greater focus on the problem of human trafficking, because it’s not an ordinary crime,” he said. “It annihilates its victims’ futures.”
He added that the central government would support all regional administrations in addressing the issue, which he said was exacerbated in part by people’s desire to escape poverty.
“We have to admit that life’s hardships are some of the reasons people get so easily caught up in trafficking,” Boediono said.
“I’m aware of this, and we will do everything to ensure that improving the people’s welfare becomes the government’s highest priority.”