Police have arrested a businessman and an immigration officer at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport as part of a crackdown on a human trafficking ring. 1
The operation followed reports that thousands of Indonesians, mostly women, have been smuggled out from the country to the Middle East where they work in sweatshops and as prostitutes. Transmigration ministry migrant workers protection director Marjono, who leads a task force assigned with detecting and eradicating people smuggling syndicates, identified the businessman only by his initial, "J". The name of the immigration official was also withheld. Marjono said the official was accused of issuing fake passports to workers.
The official was arrested last week following a series of complaints from workers deported from Syria, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, where they had worked as housemaids and prostitutes. Marjono said about 40,000 Indonesians were estimated to be working illegally in Syria, Iraq and Egypt, three countries with which Indonesia has yet to sign bilateral agreements on employment. "The workers were smuggled to the three countries from neighboring countries, such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE," he said.
The government had helped the workers return home after they were arrested and deported as illegal immigrants. A source at the Foreign Ministry said it had yet to receive a proposal from the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry to formulate bilateral labor agreements between Indonesia and the three Middle Eastern countries. He said Indonesian embassies in the Middle East frequently received reports on Indonesian workers being abused in the region. Many workers also failed to report regularly to their embassies, meaning their citizenship lapsed.
Indonesian Labor Exporters Association head Husein Alaydrus blamed widespread human trafficking on the government's unwillingness to deal properly with the issue. "The government has taken numerous measures (against human traffickers) during the past few years but it has been ineffective in eliminating (the problem) because it is not serious about implementing the policies," he said. Many more Indonesians were working illegally in Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, the United States, Spain and other European countries, he said.1 Adapted from: Ridwan Max Sijabat. ‘Govt starts crackdown on labor smuggling rings.’ The Jakarta Post. 24 March 2006. (Source: UNIAP)
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