Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Tier 2

Indonesia is a major source country and, to a much lesser extent, a destination and transit country for women, children, and men subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Each of Indonesia’s 34 provinces is a source and destination of trafficking, with the most significant source areas being the provinces of West Java, Central Java, East Java, West Nusa Tenggara, East Nusa Tenggara, and Banten. A significant number of Indonesian migrant workers face conditions of forced labor and debt bondage in Asia and the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. Indonesian women are subjected to forced prostitution primarily in Malaysia, Taiwan, and the Middle East. Indonesian trafficking victims have also been identified in Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, the Philippines, Egypt, and the United States. The government estimates that there are six and a half million Indonesians working abroad—approximately 70 percent of whom are female—with the majority working in domestic service, on plantations, operating machinery, or in construction. Malaysia remained the leading destination for newly departing migrant workers registered with the Indonesian government, and large numbers continued to migrate to Saudi Arabia despite the Indonesian government’s moratorium on sending domestic workers to Saudi Arabia. The government also maintained a moratorium on permits for Indonesians to work in the domestic service sector in Kuwait, Syria, and Jordan.

Government and non-governmental sources report a continued increase in the number of undocumented Indonesian workers travelling abroad. Undocumented workers are at a higher risk of becoming trafficking victims than documented workers. As the government continues to expand its use of biometric travel documents, false documents are becoming more difficult and expensive to obtain. As a result, more undocumented workers are traveling by sea, primarily from Batam and the Riau Islands, and by land, from Kalimantan to Malaysia, where they remain or transit to a third country. According to NGOs, labor recruiters are responsible for more than 50 percent of the Indonesian female workers who experience trafficking conditions in destination countries. Some recruiters work independently, while others work for Indonesia-based international labor recruitment companies called PJTKIs. Some PJTKIs operate similarly to trafficking rings, leading male and female workers into debt bondage and other trafficking situations. Migrants often accumulate debts with labor recruiters that make them vulnerable to debt bondage. Licensed and unlicensed companies used debt bondage, withholding of documents, and threats of violence to keep Indonesian migrants in situations of forced labor. Endemic corruption among law enforcement officers created an environment where some traffickers could operate with impunity and escape punishment.

Internal trafficking is significant in Indonesia, with women and girls exploited in domestic servitude and sex trafficking, while women, men, and children are exploited in forced labor in rural agriculture, mining, and fishing. Children are exploited internally and abroad primarily for domestic servitude and sex trafficking. Many victims were originally recruited with offers of jobs in restaurants, factories, or as domestic workers before they were coerced into prostitution. Child victims work up to 14 to 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 prevalent among sex trafficking victims, with an initial debt the equivalent of approximately $600 to $1,200. Traffickers employ a variety of means to attract and control victims, including promises of well-paying jobs, debt bondage, community and family influence, threats of violence, rape, false marriages, and confiscation of passports. Country experts reported that Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia were recruited for Umrah, a religious pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and subsequently transported to other places in the Middle East for forced labor or sex trafficking. The government and NGOs reported an increase in university and high school students using social media to recruit and offer other students, including those under the age of 18, for commercial sex within the country. Women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking near mining operations in Maluku, Papua, and Jambi provinces. Children were exploited in prostitution in the Batam district of the Riau Islands province and children from North Sulawesi province were exploited in prostitution in West Papua province. Some women from Colombia are forced into prostitution in Indonesia. Child sex tourism is prevalent in the Riau Islands bordering Singapore, and Bali is reported to be a destination for Indonesian child sex tourists.

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 continued to prosecute and convict trafficking offenders, but it made only limited progress in collecting comprehensive, accurate data on these efforts. The Minister for Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection (MWECP) continued to act as the lead in inter-ministerial programs and activities. The government increased the number of taskforces at the local level, but a decentralized government structure and a lack of coordination across agencies and among various levels of the government impaired effective implementation of a national anti-trafficking strategy and decreased the effectiveness of government anti-trafficking efforts. The government provided some protective services to more than 1,000 identified victims in 2013, and it issued two additional regulations to strengthen the implementation of Law No. 39 of 2004 on the Placement and Protection of Overseas Workers.

Recommendations for Indonesia:

Undertake greater efforts to criminally prosecute and punish labor recruitment agencies and brokers involved in trafficking; increase efforts to prosecute and convict public officials who are involved in trafficking; significantly increase efforts to proactively identify potential victims of trafficking among vulnerable groups, particularly returning migrant workers who report problems during their overseas employment, and refer their cases to law enforcement officials and social service providers; reconcile data collection methods to improve the collection, analysis, and public reporting of comprehensive data on legal proceedings against traffickers taken under the anti-trafficking law; undertake efforts to prosecute and punish those who obtain commercial sexual services from children; create a national protocol that clarifies roles and responsibilities for prosecuting trafficking cases when the crime occurs outside a victim’s province of residence, particularly with regard to responsibilities for funding the involvement of victims as witnesses in proceedings; increase government funding to support trafficking victims’ participation in legal proceedings; and increase efforts to combat trafficking through awareness-raising campaigns targeted at the public and law enforcement personnel at all levels of government in primary trafficking source regions.


The Indonesian government continued moderate anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. A comprehensive anti-trafficking law, passed in 2007 and implemented in 2009, prohibits all forms of human trafficking, 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. Police and other law enforcement officials reported that ineffective coordination among police, prosecutors, and judges interfered with the government’s ability to obtain successful convictions, particularly as cases often involved numerous jurisdictions, including other countries. The common practice of extrajudicial mediation hampered successful prosecutions, as victims whose families received out-of-court settlements from traffickers were usually unwilling to participate in official law enforcement proceedings.

The Indonesian government continued to lack a system for comprehensive nationwide data collection on anti-trafficking law enforcement, resulting in inaccuracies and inconsistencies across systems. The Indonesian National Police (INP), which collected statistics on prosecutions at the district and provincial levels, reported 109 new investigations of trafficking cases in 2013 (47 for sex trafficking and 62 for labor trafficking) and the referral to local prosecutors of 58 cases in 2013, a slight decrease from the 138 investigations and 86 referrals in 2012. The number of new referrals accepted for prosecution is unknown, but a lack of familiarity with the provisions of the anti-trafficking law at times led prosecutors and judges to decline cases or use other, more familiar laws to prosecute traffickers. The Attorney General’s office continued to operate a database to collect data on trafficking convictions throughout Indonesia, but its figures did not reconcile with the police data. The Attorney General’s office reported initiating prosecutions in 2013 against 126 defendants under the anti-trafficking law, with 118 offenders convicted; cases against 58 defendants remained pending prosecution at the end of 2013. In January 2014, the government began a prosecution of two defendants charged with subjecting 56 men to forced labor and debt bondage on a fishing vessel operating in international waters; the trial was ongoing at the close of the reporting period. The government, with support from an international organization, trained 130 judges, prosecutors, and police investigators in three regions of the country on case management and victim protection. In September 2013, a court ordered three convicted offenders to pay restitution to three sex trafficking victims—only the third time an Indonesian court has awarded restitution to a trafficking victim. Moroccan officials reported cooperation with the Indonesian government to investigate trafficking of women to Morocco for domestic service, but the status of this investigation is unknown.

NGOs and government officials reported that endemic corruption among members of Indonesian security forces and other government officials remained an impediment to the effectiveness of anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. Corrupt officials facilitated the issuance of false documents, accepted bribes to allow brokers to transport undocumented migrants across borders without regard to their vulnerability to trafficking, protected venues where sex trafficking occurred, and thwarted law enforcement and judicial processes to hold traffickers accountable. The government did not report investigating, prosecuting, or convicting any public officials for trafficking or trafficking-related complicity.


The Indonesian government continued its provision and coordination of efforts to protect victims of trafficking, though the level of available support for victims varied greatly across regions. The government did not employ standardized, nationwide guidelines for the proactive identification of victims among vulnerable groups, such as returning migrant workers who report problems during their overseas employment. Although the government did not collect or report comprehensive data on victims identified throughout the country, the information it provided indicated more than 1,000 identified victims received some form of government assistance in 2013; many more unidentified victims may have benefited from government support to returning migrant workers. Included in this total are 24 victims the government rescued from a factory in Jakarta and seven victims rescued with the assistance of police in North Sulawesi, Papua, Palembang, and West Nusa Tenggara provinces.

The government continued to rely significantly on international organizations and NGOs for the provision of services to victims, particularly for repatriated Indonesian victims of trafficking abroad. The government’s Integrated Service Centers for the Empowerment of Women and Children, supported through government and private funds, provided shelter and trauma clinics to victims of a range of abuses, including trafficking. The government opened eight new centers during the year, bringing the total to 195 at the provincial and district level. The central government largely funds provincial governments through block grants, and provinces have significant discretion in the use of these funds, including decisions on trafficking-related programs. As a result, provincial governments’ funding of victim protection services, and the level of care available through government centers, varied greatly across the country. Some provinces have not established anti-trafficking taskforces and provide only minimal funding for the protection of trafficking victims. The national police operated approximately 456 women and child service units in police stations around the country, which provided emergency protection and medical services to victims of violence, including victims of trafficking. The Ministry of Health is responsible for covering the costs of health care for trafficking victims, and all Indonesian National Police hospitals across the country are obligated to provide medical care at no cost to victims, though NGOs and government officials reported that some hospital staff remained unaware of this duty or were unwilling to provide care without compensation.

The Indonesian Embassy in Pretoria provided consular services to 75 victims identified by a civil society organization on a commercial fishing vessel operating in international waters off the coast of South Africa, but it did not provide additional advocacy or support for the men, who were sent to detention centers due to the South African government’s failure to properly identify them as trafficking victims. The government did not provide additional information about victims identified or services provided through its diplomatic missions abroad. The Ministry of Social Affairs provided financial assistance in the equivalent of approximately $250 each to 3,650 victims of abuse overseas, an unknown number of whom were victims of trafficking, and a local agency in West Nusa Tenggara provided similar support to 120 victims. The government continued to operate a toll-free hotline for overseas workers; although it received nearly 4,000 calls, including many cases involving unpaid wages, work not corresponding to a contract, or acts of violence, it did not report referring any cases to police for investigation of potential trafficking. The government had policies in place to provide legal assistance to victims, thus encouraging them to participate in cases against their traffickers, but it is unknown how many victims received this assistance. There were no reports that identified victims were punished for crimes committed as a result of being trafficked, but inadequate efforts to proactively screen vulnerable groups for trafficking indicators may well have resulted in some victims being punished for crimes committed as a direct result of their being trafficked. The government did not provide alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution.


The Indonesian government made some progress in preventing human trafficking, particularly through issuing additional guidelines for the oversight of labor migrants and the registered recruiters and licensed recruiting agencies sending them abroad. Most prevention work was conducted at the district and province levels through 25 provincial level anti-trafficking taskforces and 97 district or municipal anti-trafficking taskforces; funding for and activities undertaken by taskforces varied greatly across regions. The Coordinating Minister for Social Welfare nominally chaired the government’s national anti-trafficking taskforce, and the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection provided active direction. The national taskforce met quarterly in 2013 with 24 ministries, departments, and agencies represented; the national anti-trafficking taskforce does not have a budget and is funded by the participating ministries and departments. A number of provinces signed inter-provincial agreements that included guidelines for cooperating in the provision of care to trafficking victims located outside their home provinces.

The government continued to support the Agency for the Placement and Protection of Overseas Workers (BNP2TKI), which strengthened its efforts to monitor outbound Indonesian workers and protect them from fraudulent recruitment and human trafficking through improving its data collection and systems. The agency developed an online system to integrate information about overseas workers and share this information among numerous public and private stakeholders, and in August 2013 it signed an agreement with the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights that launched a new information management system to integrate information about migrant workers between the central government and local jurisdictions. The government issued two additional regulations on the implementation of Law No. 39 of 2004 on the Placement and Protection of Overseas Workers, to regulate the placement of workers overseas and include in-country Indonesian officials in this process. The government began implementation of initiatives that could improve their ability to monitor and protect workers in the commercial fishing sector by including them in the same registration process that applied to other workers going abroad and requiring them to apply for a permit to work abroad; companies employing fisherman who will work in international waters will be required to register with BNP2TKI.

Although a moratorium on the legal emigration of Indonesian women to Saudi Arabia for domestic work remained in place, the two governments in February 2014 signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the placement and protection of Indonesian workers in this sector; the MOU included, inter alia, a prohibition on passport withholding and provisions requiring that workers are granted one rest day per week and access to cell phones.

The government created a biometric database to register recruiters, improving its ability to regulate recruiters; however, the government failed to hold some recruitment companies accountable for fraudulent recruitment practices indicative of trafficking. For example, authorities rescued two migrants seeking work on a Korean fishing vessel who reported having their documents confiscated, but did not investigate or punish the company. Indonesian authorities reported conducting raids on recruiting companies to combat illegal practices, but did not report how many agencies, if any, were subsequently punished.

The government did not report efforts to prosecute or convict child sex tourists during the year. The government provided Indonesian military personnel with anti-trafficking training prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions. The government did not report efforts to reduce the demand for forced labor or commercial sex acts during the year.