ANN/THE JAKARTA POST – Activists and members of humanitarian organisations criticised the Indonesian government’s response to human trafficking during a lecture, claiming that more needed to be done.
The conference, ‘Justice and Mercy: Uniting to Eradicate Human Trafficking,’ organised by the Rumah Hati Suci orphanage and the Women Gospel Community was held in South Jakarta, Indonesia. The three keynote speakers were Mia Marina from the non-governmental organisation Integritas Justitia Madani Indonesia, Irena Handayani from Talitha Kum Indonesia, an organisation of Catholic nuns fighting human trafficking, and Chrisanctus Paschalis Saturnus, better known as Romo Paschal, a priest and human rights activist in Batam, Riau Islands province.
Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Minister I Gusti Ayu Bintang Darmawati, better known as Bintang Puspayoga, also participated in the event. She opened the seminar with a speech focusing on the current state of human trafficking in Indonesia.
“Indonesia has the greatest number of victims of human trafficking in Southeast Asia. And yet, when we look at the cases, we only see the tip of the iceberg. There are many other cases that likely go unreported,” she said.
The urgent need to act prompted the government, acting on Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s instructions, to overhaul a human trafficking task force in June to scale up its efforts to stop exploitation and to protect vulnerable jobseekers.
The changes include transferring the task force’s leadership from Bintang to the National Police’s Criminal Investigation Department (Bareskrim), because the Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry did not have the authority to conduct criminal investigations into human trafficking cases.
This reflected the government’s “strong commitment to ending human trafficking”, Bintang said. “But it cannot be done alone without the help of the public. These kinds of communities (like the one formed by the seminar) are important so that we can work together.”
Since taking over the task force, the police have named over 900 suspects and rescued 2,425 victims as of August.