Community Cooperation Key to Fighting Illicit Labour Recruitment in Indonesia: IOM

Labour Migration

Indonesia - Communities across Indonesia threatened by illicit labor recruitment must cooperate closely to eliminate a practice that facilitates human trafficking, representatives of five districts from across the country were told this week at an IOM-sponsored workshop in the port city of Batam.

“Victims of trafficking remain vulnerable due to vast geographic and institutional barriers which prevent them from getting adequate information and services,” IOM’s Pierre King told government officials from districts where tens of thousands of undocumented laborers are recruited annually. “The logistics of connecting your communities are daunting, but we need a common strategy to protect victims wherever they are.”

In addition to representatives from the capital Jakarta DKI, and Sukabumi and Indramayu districts in West Java province, the Batam Anti-Trafficking Task Force (ATTF) invited participants from Kupang and East Lombok districts in the far east of the country, both areas where unscrupulous labor recruiters are active.

Those delegations travelled more than 3,800km, roughly the distance between London and Tehran, to attend the meetings, underlining the scale of the challenge under-resourced local governments face coordinating their efforts.

Funded by the US State Department’s International Bureau for Narcotics and Law Enforcement, the workshop saw the signing of an important memorandum of understanding (MoU) with two legal aid institutions, the introduction of a new IOM handbook containing standard operating procedures for the delivery of integrated services for victims of or witnesses to trafficking, and a pocketbook to help frontline responders identify and assist victims and/or witnesses.

“This MoU ensures that victims of trafficking found in Batam and their families will be able to access pro-bono legal services, regardless of where they are from,” said Batam mayor Muhammad Rudi.

Roughly 1.5 million Indonesians are registered with the government as overseas workers. Batam serves as both a destination for labor migrants and victims of trafficking, some of whom end up in the city’s booming entertainment district, and a transit point for workers heading by ferry to nearby Singapore and Malaysia. The latter hosts an estimated 2.5 million unregistered Indonesian workers.

“We appreciate the role of IOM and donor counties in assisting victims in their communities of origin, transit and destination, including Batam,” said Dr. Sujatmiko, the Deputy for Women and Children’s Protection at the Coordinating Ministry of Human Development and Cultural Affairs.

“I hope the cooperation we are seeing today between Batam and source regions can be strengthened and replicated across Indonesia.”

For further information, please contact Paul Dillon at IOM Indonesia, Tel. +62 811 944 4612, Email:

Dr. Sujatmiko highlights the need to strengthen coordination between regions that are sources and destinations for migrant workers. Photo: UN Migration Agency (IOM)