Trafficking in Persons Report 2011


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. Each of Indonesia’s 33 provinces is a source and destination of trafficking, with the most significant source areas being Java, West Kalimantan, Lampung, North Sumatra, and South Sumatra. A significant number of Indonesian migrant workers face conditions of forced labor and debt bondage in more developed Asian countries and the Middle East – particularly Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Kuwait, Syria, and Iraq. The number of Indonesians seeking work abroad remains very high, with an estimated 6.5 million to 9 million Indonesian migrant workers worldwide, including 2.6 million in Malaysia and 1.8 million in the Middle East. An estimated 69 percent of all overseas Indonesian workers are female. IOM and a leading Indonesian anti-trafficking NGO estimates that 43 to 50 percent – or some 3 to 4.5 million – of Indonesia’s expatriate workforce are victims of conditions indicative of trafficking. Of 3,840 trafficking victims IOM and the Indonesian government identified upon their return from work overseas, 90 percent were female and 56 percent had been exploited in domestic work. According to IOM, a total of 82 percent of victims identified in 2010 had been trafficked abroad; 18 percent were trafficked within Indonesia. During voluntary interviews, these Indonesian trafficking victims reporting experiencing the following forms of abuse, all conducive to trafficking: withheld salary (85 percent); excessive working hours (80 percent); total restriction of movement (77 percent); verbal or psychological abuse (75 percent); and confiscation of travel documents (66 percent). The number of Indonesian women who are raped while working as domestic workers appears to be on the rise. Based on a 2010 survey, a respected Indonesian NGO noted that during the year 471 Indonesian migrants returned from the Middle East pregnant as the result of rape, and an additional 161 returned with children who had been born in the Middle East. Half of the victims of trafficking within the country were children, while 70 percent of victims trafficked abroad were adults.

According to IOM, labor recruiters, both legal and illegal, are responsible for more than 50 percent of the Indonesian female workers who experience trafficking conditions in destination countries. Some recruiters work independently, others for recruitment labor companies called PJTKIs (which include both legal and illegal companies). Some PJTKIs operate similar to trafficking rings, leading both male and female workers into debt bondage and other trafficking situations. These recruitment brokers often operate outside the law with impunity and some PJTKIs use ties to government officials or police to escape punishment. There are reports of workers recruited for overseas work by PJTKIs being confined involuntarily for months in compounds – ostensibly for training and processing – prior to their deployment, accumulating debts that make them vulnerable to debt bondage. Licensed and unlicensed companies used debt bondage, withholding of documents, threats of violence, and confinement in locked premises for extended periods to keep Indonesian migrants in situations of forced labor.

Indonesian women migrate to Malaysia, Singapore, and the Middle East and are subsequently subjected to forced prostitution; they are also subjected to forced prostitution and forced labor in Indonesia. According to the Director General for the Development of Tourist Destinations, an estimated 40,000 to 70,000 Indonesian children have been exploited in prostitution within the country. Children are trafficked internally and abroad primarily for domestic servitude, forced prostitution, and cottage industries. Many of these trafficked girls work 14-16 hours a day at very low wages, often under perpetual debt due to pay advances given to their families by Indonesian brokers. Debt bondage is particularly pronounced among sex trafficking victims, with an initial debt of some $600 to $1,200 imposed on victims; given an accumulation of additional fees and debts, women and girls are often unable to escape this indebted servitude, even after years in prostitution. Sixty percent of children under 5 years old do not have official birth certificates, putting them at higher risk for trafficking. Traffickers employ a variety of means to attract and control victims, including promises of well-paying jobs, debt bondage, community and family pressures, threats of violence, rape, false marriages, and confiscation of passports.

A trend of recruitment of Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia for Umrah, a religious pilgrimage to Mecca continued during the year; once in the Saudi Kingdom, Indonesian migrants are trafficked to other points in the Middle East. A greater number of Indonesian girls were recruited into sex trafficking through Internet social networking media during the year. Traffickers also resorted to outright kidnapping of girls and young women for sex trafficking within the country and abroad. More than 25 sex trafficking victims from Uzbekistan were identified in 2010, and there were reports of victims from China, Thailand, other Central Asian countries, and Eastern Europe exploited in Indonesia.

Internal trafficking is also a significant problem in Indonesia, with women and girls exploited in domestic servitude, commercial sexual exploitation, and in forced labor in rural agriculture, mining, and fishing. Many victims were originally recruited with offers of jobs in restaurants, factories, or as domestic workers before they were coerced into prostitution. Child sex tourism is prevalent in most urban areas and tourist destinations, such as Bali and Riau Island. Some traffickers continued to forge partnerships with school officials to recruit young men and women in vocational programs for forced labor on fishing boats through fraudulent “internship” opportunities. In April 2011, the government established the National Coalition for the Elimination of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children at the University of Indonesia as a first step to addressing the problem.

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. During the year, the government undertook efforts to improve coordination and reporting of its anti-trafficking efforts. However, the government did not enact necessary migrant worker legislation or apply sufficient criminal sanctions to labor recruiters who subject Indonesian migrants to labor trafficking. Moreover, the government did not demonstrate vigorous efforts to investigate, prosecute, and criminally punish law enforcement officials complicit in human trafficking, and this remained a severe impediment to the government’s and NGOs’ anti-trafficking efforts.

During the year, the Indonesian government undertook a number of reforms that significantly improved the coordination and effectiveness of the 19 ministries and agencies involved in addressing human trafficking. The government clarified the role of the National Agency for Placement and Protection of Indonesian Overseas Workers (BNP2TKI) in implementing the 2004 migrant labor law (Law No. 39), which created the agency. It also enacted a new immigration law that provides additional tools with which to fight the complicity of law enforcement officials in human trafficking and smuggling, and advanced draft legislation to protect migrant workers, including trafficking victims, more effectively. Recognizing the high vulnerability of female migrant workers in some receiving countries, the Indonesian government imposed a ban on its certification of additional Indonesian female migrants going to Saudi Arabia and Jordan; it continued an earlier-imposed ban on female migrants going to Malaysia.

Recommendations for Indonesia: Enact draft legislation that would amend 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; undertake greater efforts to criminally prosecute and punish labor recruitment agencies involved in trafficking and the illicit recruitment practices that facilitate trafficking, including the charging of recruitment fees that are grossly disproportionate to the services that recruiters provide; increase efforts to prosecute and convict public officials – particularly law enforcement and Ministry of Manpower officials who are involved in trafficking; undertake efforts to prosecute and punish those who obtain commercial sexual services from children; increase government funding at all levels of government for law enforcement efforts against trafficking and the rescue, recovery, and reintegration of trafficking victims; increase efforts to protect domestic workers within Indonesia, particularly children, through law enforcement, public awareness and assistance to families, given their particular vulnerabilities to trafficking; improve the collection, analysis, and public reporting of comprehensive data on law enforcement actions taken under the 2007 law; improve coordination with other labor sending governments, through ASEAN or regional migration fora such as the Colombo Process, with the goal of creating a regional migration framework that protects workers from human trafficking and exploitation; and increase efforts to combat trafficking through awareness campaigns targeted at the public and law enforcement personnel at all levels of government in primary trafficking source regions.


The Indonesian government sustained anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the last year, though the reported numbers of trafficking offenders prosecuted and convicted declined significantly. This drop may be attributable to an improved system of collecting and reporting law enforcement data within Indonesia’s increasingly decentralized government. Through a comprehensive anti-trafficking law passed in 2007 and implemented in 2009, Indonesia prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons, prescribing penalties of three to 15 years’ imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. However, police and prosecutors, many of whom are still unfamiliar with the legislation, are often reluctant or unsure of how to effectively use it to punish traffickers. While police reportedly used the 2007 law to prepare cases for prosecution, some prosecutors and judges still use other, more familiar laws to prosecute traffickers. During 2010, police investigated 106 persons who were arrested and charged with offenses under the 2007 law. During the year, the government prosecuted 112 suspected trafficking offenders under the 2007 trafficking law, compared with 138 prosecuted in 2009. The Indonesian government obtained the convictions of 25 offenders in 2010, compared with 84 convictions obtained in 2009. The significantly lower number of convictions in 2010 is in part due to a new and improved data reporting format for national and provincial law enforcement authorities, which resulted in reporting only January through June 2010 for this report and includes only cases charged under the 2007 anti-trafficking law, rather than counting convictions under child labor and immigration laws. The national task force, in consolidating the collection of anti-trafficking data, faced challenges in collecting full data from provincial and district law enforcement authorities.

Indonesian officials and local NGOs continued to criticize the police as being too passive in investigating trafficking absent specific complaints. NGOs also reported that in cases where police rescued trafficking victims, they often failed to pursue their traffickers, who fled to other regions or left the country. While police were often aware of children in prostitution or other trafficking situations, they frequently failed to intervene to arrest probable traffickers or to protect victims without specific reports from third parties. Police liaison officers are posted to Indonesian embassies in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand to support law enforcement cooperation with host governments, including trafficking investigations. During the year, the government expanded its collaboration with foreign partners and NGOs in the training of law enforcement officials on trafficking.

The Criminal Investigation Unit in Surubaya has focused on prostitution offenders. In September 2010, they arrested the head of two child trafficking rings. Twenty victims were rescued and the case was referred to prosecution. Police also uncovered a case in which the parents of three girls, who lived in a poor area of Surabaya, sold their daughters to local pimps. Also, in East Java, in May 2010, police in Malang arrested the owners of the labor recruitment firm Jaya Sakti PT Sodo for involvement in suspected trafficking offenses.

During the year, government officials and civil society actors discussed draft legislation on migrant workers that would address the significant gaps in the existing 2004 law. In March 2011, Indonesia’s parliament passed a new immigration law, replacing a 1992 statute, that provides punishments of up to two years’ imprisonment for officials found guilty of aiding and abetting human trafficking or people smuggling. The new law also links human trafficking and people smuggling, allowing traffickers also to be prosecuted for the crime of smuggling.

Corruption remains endemic in Indonesia, and members of the security forces continued to be involved both directly and indirectly in trafficking, according to NGOs and local officials. Police and military officials were sometimes associated with brothels and fronts for prostitution, most frequently through the collection of protection money, which was a widespread practice. Some security force members were also brothel owners. Fraudulent recruitment brokers involved in trafficking often operate outside the law with impunity. Some Ministry of Manpower officials reportedly licensed and protected international labor recruiting agencies involved in human trafficking, despite the officials’ knowledge of the agencies’ involvement in trafficking. Some fraudulent recruitment agencies tied to families or friends of government officials or police who make deals when caught, and then continue to operate government passport services remained the object of widespread corruption, and recruitment agencies routinely falsified birth dates, including for children, in order to apply for passports and migrant worker documents. The Ministry of Manpower publicly stated that it is identifying and punishing these companies, and the media frequently reports arrests of labor company recruiters. In April 2011, authorities reportedly arrested two PJTKI representatives for falsifying the documents of two Indonesian domestic workers that the company sent to Saudi Arabia, and who were severely abused in the Kingdom. However, the ministry has not yet provided any statistics on such activities. Some local officials facilitated trafficking by certifying false information in the production of national identity cards and family data cards for children, allowing them to be recruited for work as adults abroad and within the country.

International organizations and third-country diplomats reported that, in return for bribes, some immigration officials turned a blind eye to potential trafficking victims, failing to screen or act with due diligence in processing passports and immigration control. International NGOs report that corrupt Indonesian immigration officials posted abroad work hand-in-hand with trafficking rings in supplying brothels with victims. There were credible reports of police and military elements complicit in running brothels filled with victims from foreign countries, such as Uzbekistan. When alerted by the victims’ embassies of the problems the police reportedly refused to rescue the women. Despite some reports of law enforcement officials’ complicity in human trafficking during the year, the government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, convictions, or sentences of public officials for such trafficking-related offenses.


The Indonesian government continued modest but uneven efforts to protect victims of trafficking during the year. The Ministry of Social Welfare continued to operate 22 shelters and trauma clinics for victims of sex and labor trafficking and the National Police operated several “integrated service centers,” which provided medical services to victims of violence, also accessible to victims of trafficking. The government did not, however, report how many victims of trafficking were assisted by these centers. The government continued to operate more than 500 district level women’s help desks to assist women and child victims of violence, including trafficking. The government relied significantly on international organizations and NGOs for the provision of services to victims, such as IOM assistance in running the police integrated service centers, and provided some limited funding to domestic NGOs and civil society groups that supported services for populations which included trafficking victims. Most security personnel did not employ formal procedures for the identification and referral of victims among vulnerable groups, such as females in prostitution, children migrating within the country, and workers returning from abroad, but did refer some victims to service providers on an ad hoc basis. In part because of a lack of sufficient funding, police were often compelled to return trafficking victims to their homes the day they were rescued, without the provision of any meaningful shelter or assistance. This jeopardized the successful prosecution of trafficking cases and often played into the hands of traffickers who waited for the victims’ return and the opportunity to re-traffic them.

During the year, the government sustained funding for trafficking victim protection efforts, allocating $133,000 through the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection (MWECP) specifically for assistance to trafficking victims. An additional $3.1 million was allotted by MWECP to the protection of women and children, an unknown part of which will benefit victims of human trafficking. The Social Welfare Ministry continued programs that included operating trauma centers, providing more psychosocial workers and trauma experts, and training on trauma treatment.

Screening of migrants for evidence of trafficking at Jakarta International Airport’s Terminal Four, through which nearly 40 percent of legal migrants on their way to destinations other than Malaysia pass, remained inadequate. Officials at the terminal estimated that more than 35 percent of the returnees are victims of trafficking, though for a number of reasons were reluctant to report the problem. Seven ministries operated Terminal Four and the result was that the returnees, more than 1,000 per day, were forced to pay excessive fees for inadequate services. Returnees were required to use transportation arranged by the Ministry of Transportation at exorbitant rates. Neither family members nor friends were allowed to meet with the returnees until they returned to their home of record. The police demanded a fee for the ride and certification of delivery.

Some trafficking victims were detained and arrested by police, including through raids on prostitution establishments; some anti-prostitution raids were carried out by police in order to extract bribes from managers and owners of these establishments. There were reports that some police refused to receive trafficking complaints from victims, instead urging the victims to reach informal settlements with their traffickers. Some government personnel encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases, while others were less solicitous of victims’ cooperation. The prolonged nature of court cases often led victims to avoid cooperating with the prosecution of their traffickers; additionally, the government does not provide adequate funds for victim witnesses to travel to trials. Authorities continued to round up and deport a small number of women in prostitution without determining whether they were victims of trafficking. Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry continued to operate shelters for trafficking victims and migrant workers at some of its embassies and consulates abroad. These diplomatic shelters sheltered thousands of Indonesian citizens in distress, including trafficking victims.


The Indonesian government made efforts to prevent human trafficking during the reporting period. The Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection continued to chair the national task force on trafficking, which included working group sub-units on coordination, policy, and other areas. Indonesia’s vice president chaired an October 2010 meeting of the national task force, in which the 19 member agencies were tasked with forming six working groups and attendant work plans and budgets in line with the 2009-2014 national action plan against human trafficking. The MWECP chaired a follow-up meeting of the task force in January 2011, to develop the six working groups’ plans. Despite this progress in coordinating the national government’s anti-trafficking, the task force’s secretariat continued to face inadequate funding and staffing. During the reporting period, the number of provinces with local anti-trafficking task forces increased to 20, along with a total of 72 regencies and cities with their own task forces. The Ministry of Education launched a public awareness campaign throughout Indonesia to alert vulnerable populations, in particular girls in vocational schools in poorer regions, to the dangers of trafficking and to inform them of their rights. Similarly, the MWEPC aired public service announcements throughout Indonesia warning about trafficking and providing contact information for assistance to victims. The government continued partnerships with NGOs and international organizations to increase public awareness of trafficking. This was the result of coordination among members of the joint task force against trafficking. The government’s negotiations with the Malaysian government on amendments to a 2006 memorandum of understanding covering Indonesian domestic workers stalled during the year, reportedly due to an impasse on the issue of a minimum wage and a weekly day off which the government of Indonesia is demanding of domestic workers; as a result, an Indonesian government ban on approving the emigration of domestic workers to Malaysia remained in effect. The 2006 MOU ceded the rights of Indonesian domestic workers to hold their passports while working in Malaysia.

During the year, the government clarified the mandate of the BNP2TKI, which was established under the 2004 Labor Placement and Protection Law (Law No. 39). In prior years, the BNP2TKI and the Ministry of Manpower claimed dueling mandates over the placement and protection of Indonesian migrant workers. The BNP2TKI was formally designated the sole implementer of the 2004 law through a Ministry of Manpower decree issued in October 2010. The Ministry of Manpower reportedly listed approximately 100 labor recruiting companies (PJTKIs) suspected of malpractice and abuses that potentially contribute to labor trafficking; to date, however, the government has not penalized any of these PJTKIs. The government did not report efforts to reduce the demand for forced labor or the demand for commercial sex acts during the year.

Associated documents

  • Document ID 1014251 Related / Associated
  • Methodology associated with Trafficking in persons report 2011

    Trafficking in Persons Report 2011 (Periodical Report, English)