Cooperation and community empowerment to beat human trafficking
Leaders from across the country agreed at a meeting in the bustling port city of Batam, that communities in Indonesia must cooperate to eliminate human trafficking.
The Batam Anti-Trafficking Task Force (ATTF) meeting on 5 May, facilitated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) included participants from as far away as Kupang and East Lombok, impoverished districts where unscrupulous labour recruiters are active. The delegations travelled more than 3,800km, roughly the distance between London and Tehran, to attend the meetings, underlining the scale of the coordination challenge.
Roughly 1.5 million Indonesians are registered with the Government as overseas workers. The number of unregistered workers in Malaysia alone could be as high as two million, creating an environment where trafficking can flourish.
Since 2005, the UN Migration Agency has provided direct return and reintegration assistance to more than 8,500 Indonesian and foreign victims of trafficking.
“Victims of trafficking remain vulnerable due to vast geographic and institutional barriers which prevent them from receiving adequate information and services, and the lack of local government awareness about exploitative labour practices,” IOM’s Pierre King told the officials who represented districts where tens of thousands of undocumented labourers are recruited annually. “We need to find innovative ways to address these challenges and assist the victims.”
In addition to providing a forum for representatives from diverse areas to exchange experiences, the meeting agreed to ensure full legal representation for victims of trafficking in Batam regardless of where they are from.
The meeting came less than a month after thirteen at-risk Sukabumi communities in West Java unveiled a series of innovative village-specific counter trafficking policies and standard operating procedures developed by the district anti-trafficking task force with IOM’s assistance.
“Trafficking in persons often begins with unscrupulous recruitment; the labour authorities have recorded 4,000 cases in Sukabumi alone involving this practice,” said Dr. Sujatmiko, Deputy of Women and Children’s Protection, Coordinating Ministry of Human Development and Cultural Affairs. “I am hoping, with the adoption of these village regulations, Sukabumi communities can help fight against trafficking and actively report the practice to local authorities.”
A cooperative effort for victims of trafficking in Sukabumi assisted by IOM and its civil society and private sector partners has created revenue-generating activities like fish farms that supply local markets.
A cooperative effort for victims of trafficking in Sukabumi assisted by IOM and its civil society and private sector partners has created revenue-generating activities like this farm that supplies restaurants in Jakarta with mushrooms